Another massive diamond find at Letšeng

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Herbert Moyo

LETŠENG Diamonds continued with its impressive performance of recovering high quality diamonds, with the latest find being a 115 carat top white colour Type IIa diamond from its mine in Mokhotlong.

Gem Diamonds, which owns 70 percent of Letšeng Diamonds with the remainder held by the government, released a statement on Tuesday announcing the latest find.

“Gem Diamonds Limited is pleased to announce the recovery of a 115 carat, top white colour Type IIa diamond from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world,” the company said this week.

“This is the ninth diamond of over 100 carats recovered in 2018, already exceeding the total number of diamonds of over 100 carats recovered in 2017.”

The finds are the latest in the long line of impressive performances by the Letšeng Mine which also saw the recovery of a 910 carat diamond in in January this year.

The 910 carat diamond, which was christened the ‘Lesotho Legend,’ was sold for a staggering US$40 million (M520 million) at an auction in Antwerp in Belgium in March this year.

Letseng has also recovered a high-value 117 carat diamond and a 110 carat Type IIa diamond this year.

The robust trend continues from that of last year when a 115-carat diamond was recovered in September.

In June 2017, the mine recovered two large diamonds one a high-quality 104.73 carat, D-colour Type IIa diamond and the other a 151.52 carat Type I yellow diamond.

Before that in May 2017, the mine recovered a high-quality 80 carat, D colour Type II diamond, while in April it recovered a 114 carat, D colour Type II diamond of exceptional quality.

Meanwhile, Lucapa Diamond Company Limited on Tuesday reported diamond recoveries from its bulk sampling programme at its Mothae Mine also in Mokhotlong.

The largest of these was a 25 carat diamond. Mothae is still in the trial mining stage ahead of the commencement of full scale mining operations later this year.

In a statement to the Lesotho Times, Lucapa Diamonds Managing Director, Stephen Wetherall, said the diamonds were recovered from the bulking sampling plant which has been refurbished as the company intensifies its preparations for full scale mining which is set to commence in the second half of the year.

“Lucapa Diamond Company and the government are pleased to report the recent recovery of a 25 carat yellow gem diamond from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho,” Mr Wetherall wrote.

“The gem-quality diamond was recovered from the Neck Zone of the Mothae kimberlite and other (in excess of) 5 carat diamond recoveries from the first two days of trial processing of material from the Neck Zone include a 6 carat diamond.

“The 25 carat yellow gem diamond was recovered within the first two days of trial processing through the bulk sampling plant after recent efficiency and security modifications.

“Following sign off of the modifications, Mothae will commence processing three 50 000 tonne bulk samples of kimberlite material from the Neck, North and South East Zones, with the aim of adding to the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) resource and the mine life,” Mr Wetherall further said.

The 25 carat diamond is the largest that Mothae has recovered since the company’s “test run” in February this year which yielded a number of gems of which the largest was 6.6 carats.

In his previous communication with this publication, Mr Wetherall said the bulk sampling programme was “designed to provide additional resource and diamond data to expand the life of the mine while also generating early cash flows before full scale mining begins”.

He further stated that “the construction of the new 150 tonne per hour (90 000 tonnes per month) diamond treatment plant, including an X-Ray transmission diamond recovery technology (XRT) continues and remains on schedule for full commissioning and commercial production in the second half of 2018”.

Lucapa has a US$17 million budget for Phase 1 of full scale mining which will run from 2018 to 2021.

The company also secured an additional US$15 million (M195 million) financing loan to develop Phase 1 operations which are expected to generate gross revenue earnings of US$79, 6 million while Phase 2 which will run from 2022 to 2031 will generate gross revenue earnings of US$697 million.

Lucapa is expected to incur royalties and marketing costs of US$5, 6 million for Phase 1 and US$48, 8 million for Phase 2.

Operating costs for Phase 1 have been pegged at US$34, 1 million while those for Phase 2 have been pegged at US$307, 8 million.

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