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Mothae opens 2021 with record diamond prices

Bereng Mpaki

MOTHAE Diamond Mine this week achieved the highest average diamond price on its first sale of 2021, according to its majority shareholder, Lucapa Diamond Company.

The mine fetched US$5, 6 million at US$1198 per carat from the sale of 4 676 carats of raw diamonds on its first sale of the year.

Mothae, which resumed operations in October 2020 following a six- months’ care and maintenance phase to revise its diamond marketing strategy, has seemingly come back stronger.

Lucapa is the majority shareholder in Mothae Mine with a 70 percent stake while the remaining 30 percent is controlled by the government. The mine started commercial mining in January 2019.

“Lucapa Diamond Company Limited and its partner, the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho are pleased to provide an update on the first sale of diamonds in 2021 from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho,” Lucapa said in a statement this week.

“The parcel of 4 676 carats of rough diamonds were sold for a total of US$5, 6 million or US$1 198 per carat. This is the highest average US$ per carat price achieved by Mothae on the sale of any run of mine production parcel.”

Included in the sale is a 101-carat D colour diamond that was recovered in December 2020. The gem is the most valuable diamond recovered at the mine to date.

“The sale included a number of specials (diamonds weighing above 10, 8 carats), including the 101-carat D colour diamond recovered following re-opening of the mine in Q4 2020, which is the most valuable diamond recovered to date at Mothae.”

On his part, Lucapa’s managing director, Stephen Wetherall commented Mothae’s recovery.

“Following a tough 2020, where both of our mines were impacted by the (Covid-19) pandemic, our valued teams have shown their resilience and operations have bounced back strongly. The good recoveries at both mines and growing demand leading to strengthening diamond prices has seen a strong start to 2021.

“We look forward to Mothae receiving further value following implementation of the cutting and polishing partnership and to completing the expansion at Mothae this quarter,” Mr Wetherall said.

The new marketing plan means that diamonds from Mothae mine are now sold at full and transparent rough market value directly to diamond processors.

“This approval will allow Mothae to implement value accretive polishing partnerships with its diamantaire partners where Mothae will see additional benefit accruing in the form of shared polished margins from beyond the mine gate.

“This additional marketing optionality, together with an expansion program that could see the Mothae mine production increase by some 60 percent, will result in a substantial increase in the mine’s contribution to all its stakeholders,” reads a September 2021 statement from Lucapa.

Mothae mine produced over 30 000 carats in its first year of production and has produced four greater than 100-carat diamonds to date. Lucapa recently secured funding to commission an estimated 45 percent expansion of the processing capacity of the Mothae kimberlite mine from 1, 1 million tonnes of ore per annum (Mtpa) to 1.6 Mtpa which is scheduled for completion by April this year.

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