JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – London-listed Gem Diamonds was in the process of establishing an in-country manufacturing facility for its flagship Lesotho-based Letšeng mine to further develop downstream activities.
The facility, which was expected to process certain categories of the mine’s rough diamond production, using proprietary diamond processing technology, would be completed during the second half of 2013.
The mine would, as part of the development of Letšeng's downstream activities and capabilities, ramp up to full production by 2014.
This followed the scaling back of the company’s Project Kholo – an expansion programme initiated at Letšeng in 2011 to double production capacity.
Gem Diamonds wrote off $1.4-million after the group re-evaluated the project in 2012.
“The project management team is actively investigating the optimal allocation of capital to fund an optimised Project Kholo with a lower capital requirement,” the company said in a statement.
However, the elements of Project Kholo deemed more capital efficient and offering near-term returns would continue implementation.
Letšeng had achieved production of 114 350 ct during the year ended December 2012 – up 2% from its record production of 112 367 ct in 2011.
The average recovered grade at the mine was 1.75 carats per hundred ton (cpht), up from 1.65 cpht in 2011. Over 645 rough diamonds greater than 10.8 ct were recovered in 2012.