More than 600 million carats of diamonds over a lifespan of 60 years. That's the production estimate for Angola's new Luele mining project — one of the world's largest based on anticipated performance.
Sitting atop a kimberlite pipe in Angola's northeastern Lunda Sul Province, the Luele diamond deposit was discovered back in 2013, but officially began operations last week.
"This is the only major new diamond mine in the world that will commence production this decade," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Reuters.
Angola has a reputation of supplying some of the world's finest diamonds. Among the most notable are the 170-carat "Lulo Rose," the largest pink diamond discovered anywhere in the world over the past 300 years, and the 404.20-carat white diamond named “4 de Fevereiro.” Both were mined by Lucapa Diamond Company at its Lulo alluvial diamond mine in Angola.
The Luele mine — formerly known as Luaxe — is billed as one of the largest discoveries in the diamond industry in more than half a century. During its pilot phase, Angola's state-controlled diamond miner, Catoca, extracted five million carats from the 600-meter-deep deposit. The site should reach full capacity by 2025.
The Luele mine is just 20 km from the already-successful Catoca mine, the world’s fourth largest, with an annual production capacity of 10 million carats.
According to published reports, the Luele mine is expected to double Angola's production, making it the world’s third-largest diamond producer, behind only the Russian Federation and Botswana. Catoca has a 50.5% stake in the Luele mining project.