JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Aim-listed Firestone Diamonds’ Lesotho-based Liqhobong diamond mine treated 925 000 t of material in the quarter ended June 30.
This brings the total for the financial year to 1.97-million tonnes, the company said in a statement on Monday.
"The commissioning and ramp-up process at Liqhobong has been very successful, particularly in terms of mining and treatment. To have achieved commercial production within eight months of start-up is an exceptional record,” CEO Stuart Brown said.
The company noted that the tonnage achievement was at the top end of guidance and confirmed that Liqhobong completed its commercial production testing programme.
As mining operations at the mine have advanced and the cuts and benches were being established to follow the detailed mine plan, the company's ability to access more areas of the pit increased, with the company moving into the higher-grade K5 ore during the quarter.
“The ability to further access K5 and K4 and other areas of the pit will continue to increase over the coming months as the infrastructure for cut one is established.”
Of the 1.97-million tonnes treated for the year, 80% came from the lower-grade K2 material in the pit with some dilution, while 7% of the tonnage came from the K4 material, also with some dilution.
During the quarter ended June 30, 204 000 ct were recovered at a grade of 22 carats per hundred tonnes.
The continued increase in grade is a result of the company processing higher-grade K5 ore, as well as the successful plant modifications implemented in the previous quarters.
Fifty-four special diamonds larger than 10.8 ct were recovered, bringing the total for the financial year to 112. The recovery of fancy yellow diamonds also continued.
The waste stripping programme is currently ahead of schedule and the main pit is now completely dewatered.
The summer rainy season was slightly above average and all the storage facilities on site were filled to required levels. As at June 30, Firestone had 560 000 m3 of water on site, which was sufficient to last until the next rainfall season later this year.
Meanwhile, Firestone noted that it had $17.3-million cash on hand at the end of the quarter, which included the compulsory drawdown of the $5-million from the extended $15-million standby facility.
In addition, post the quarter end, the second Absa debt repayment of $4.1-million was made as scheduled.
Firestone held two diamond sales in May and June in Antwerp. The diamond sales saw all 182 786 ct on offer sold, achieving an average price of $77/ct for proceeds of $14.1-million.
For the full year, 310 376 ct were sold, generating proceeds of $27.8-million, achieving an average price of $90/ct.