LETŠENG Diamond mine has recorded above average prices for the sale of its rough diamonds during the first half of 2020 despite a depressed market on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The world’s highest dollar-per-carat mining operation recently announced its impressive half-year sales performance after fetching an average of $1 707 per carat for 15 diamonds sold during the period under review.
The mine’s performance from January to June 2020 outdid that of the second half of 2019 and the first half of 2018 performances. This is in spite of a predicted 30 percent decline for the diamond market during 2020 due to the negative effects of Covid-19.
Analysts say the measures taken by many governments around the world to contain the Covid-19 pandemic have disrupted the entire diamond value chain from rough diamond miners, cutters and polishers to the jewellery end of the market.
The global diamond market is only expected to start recovering in the second half of 2020 as travel bans and movement are gradually lifted.
But the London Stock Exchange-listed Gem Diamonds, which holds 70 percent shareholding of Letšeng Diamonds, said there was a good demand for its mine’s high-quality diamonds.
Gem said each of the 15 diamonds were sold for over $ 1 million (about M17 million each) in a private auction in Antwerp conducted in line with Covid-19 health and safety protocols. Although Gem Diamonds did not say when the auction was held, it said it has since closed.
“The company realised an average $/carat for H1 2020 of $1 707. This compares to an average $/carat for H1 2019 of $1 687 and H2 2019 of $1 506,” part of the Gem Diamonds statement reads.
Gem Diamonds chief executive officer Clifford Elphick said the results were positive.
“The results of the latest tender for Letšeng’s large diamonds are positive. With an average dollar per carat for the first half of the year of $1 707 and with certain stones selling above their anticipated post- Covid-19 valuations, it is clear that there is a good level of demand for the high quality Letšeng Diamonds,” Mr Elphick said.
The mine’s fancy diamonds sold during the period, have also kept up the good performance in the market.
“Notably, a 13-carat pink diamond achieved $40 110 per carat, and a 61-carat white Type II diamond achieved $31 400 per carat. Fifteen diamonds were sold in H1 2020 for over $1 million each and one diamond for over $5 million.
“The tender was held in Antwerp and in strict compliance with Covid-19 health and safety protocols and appropriate social distancing guidelines,” the statement concludes.
The government of Lesotho holds 30 percent of Letšeng Diamonds’ shareholding.