‘We have had constructive discussions with the Botswana president and ministry and expect a new sales channel in short order’
LUCARA Diamond’s world came crashing in last year when the firm announced the underground extension of its Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana – its only operating asset – would take 18 months longer to complete, putting the entire company at huge risk. The main implication of the delay was a significant increase in its capital cost to $683m as well as later-than-planned cash flow just as the mine’s open-pit reserves ran down.
Unfortunately for Lucara, this bad news landed just as project capital and debt repayment obligations fell due and as global diamond prices slumped amid a large supply surplus. Lucara’s balance sheet was in deep, deep trouble. Lucara’s 24.5% shareholder Lundin Group rushed to the firm’s support, but the die was cast for Eira Thomas, Lucara’s CEO of five years, who promptly resigned in August. In stepped William Lamb, a former CEO of Lucara whose priority is now to secure working capital extensions as well as a new sales agreement with the Botswana government.
This was after Lucara in September cancelled a sales deal with HB Antwerp for high-value stones citing “a material breach of financial commitments”. As a 24% shareholder in HB Antwerp, the Botswana government was also left looking for alternative sales arrangements. Owing to these constraints, Lucara slashed sales guidance for 2023 while production and sales volumes for this year have also been cut year-on-year. Amid the financial mayhem, Glenn Kondo, another former Lucara employee, returns to the company as its CFO.
LIFE OF WILLIAM
After leaving Lucara in 2018 where he had been CEO and president for 10 years, Lamb set up his own consulting business – WLP – which he ran for five years from Vancouver. He then decamped to Toronto where he joined NewGen Resource Lending as its partner and chief technical officer. Clearly, he could not but heed the SOS from Lucara. Prior to Lucara, Lamb earned his stripes at De Beers in various technical roles, but life in mining began at Rand Mines where he helped mine diamonds’ dark alter ego, coal.