LIQHOBONG Diamond Mine has recovered 835 832 carats of diamonds in its first full year of production, the company’s majority shareholder Firestone Diamonds has said.
The figure represents a 128 percent increase from the 365 891 carats that the mine achieved in the previous financial year which ended on 30 June 2017.
The company also sold 831 637 carats of diamonds during the financial year ended 30 June 2018 and this represented a 168 percent increase from the 310 376 carats sold during the year ended 30 June 2017.
The full-scale production enabled the mine to increase its revenue to US$62, 2 million from the US$27, 8 million in 2017. This represented a 125 percent growth in revenue.
“The first full year of production was characterised by exceptional operational performance (which included) a 128 percent increase in diamonds recovered to 835 832 carats compared to 365 891 carats in 2017,” Firestone Diamonds said in a recent statement to the Lesotho Times.
“The largest diamond recovered to date was a 134-carat gem-quality light yellow diamond and the most valuable diamond recovered, as measured by US dollars per carat, was a fancy pink diamond which sold for US$112 781 per carat.
“There was a 93 percent increase in ore tonnes treated to 3, 8 million tonnes from 1, 97 million tonnes in 2017.”
Commenting on the results, Firestone chief executive officer Paul Bosma described the 2018 financial year as “an eventful one, marking the company’s first full year as a diamond producer at Liqhobong”.
“Having concluded a US$25 million fundraising at the end of December 2017 and restructuring our ABSA debt facility, we entered the second half of the financial year on a much stronger financial footing. We had an exceptional final quarter from an operational perspective, and I am pleased to say that this trend has continued into the 2019 financial year.
“From a market perspective, we have seen further evidence of subdued pricing for smaller, lower quality goods at the most recent diamond sales putting pressure on overall dollar per carat. However, the demand for larger, better quality stones remain strong. The overall supply-demand dynamics in the natural diamond market remain favourable in the short to medium term with no new sources of supply on the horizon and the major producers carrying minimal stock and operating close to full capacity. This bodes well for Liqhobong which is only just starting its journey,” Mr Bosma said.
The following were the major highlights of the mine’s first full year of production:
- Revenue increased by 125 percent to US$62, 2 million (up from US$27, 8 million in 2017).
- Loss for the year decreased by 91 percent to US$14, 2 million (from US$151, 7 million in 2017).
- Cash balance of US$18, 4 million (up from US$17, 1 million in 2017).
- Successful US$25 million equity raised in December 2017.
- Successful restructuring of the US$82, 4 million ABSA Debt Facility with a capital repayment grace period until 30 June 2019.
Firestone is a United Kingdom-based company, which trades on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). It has 75 percent shares in the Liqhobong Mine and the remaining 25 percent stake is held by the government.