LETŠENG Diamonds continued with its impressive performance of recovering high quality diamonds, with the latest find being a 138-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, recently released a statement announcing the latest find.
“Gem Diamonds Limited is pleased to announce the recovery of a 138 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 in its statement.
“This is the twelfth diamond of over 100 carats recovered in 2018 and a record for the Company in terms of the number of diamonds of over 100 carats recovered in a year”.
The latest diamond discovery comes after another huge find of a 115-carat stone in May this year.
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 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.
Letšeng 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.
There have however, been concerns that despite the huge finds, Lesotho does not realise significant revenue inflows from the sales of its diamonds.
For instance, the government only realised US$3, 2 million for the sale of the 910-carat diamond that was recovered at the Letšeng Mine in January this year.
This is despite the fact that the diamond, which has been dubbed ‘The Lesotho Legend’, is the fifth largest ever recovered in the world and it went on to fetch a whooping US$40 million (about half a billion maloti) at an auction in Antwerp in Belgium.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro told this publication in May this year that although Lesotho would occasionally make massive diamond finds including the ‘Lesotho Legend’, unfavourable contracts that the successive governments negotiated with the mining companies negatively impacted on the earnings that accrued to the state.
He said although the government had negotiated for 10 percent royalties from the sale of diamonds, the state was often forced to settle for as low as eight percent as was the case with the ‘Lesotho Legend’. He said this was because mining companies often pleaded with government to accept a lower percentage in royalties, citing operational costs which reduced their profit margins.