Letšeng diamond mine performing well

15th November 2013

By: Leandi Kolver

Creamer Media Deputy Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – London-listed Gem Diamonds' 70%-owned Letšeng diamond mine, in Lesotho, continued to perform well during the period stretching from July 1 to November 14, with the recovery of 13 exceptional diamonds that achieved prices of more than $1-million each, totalling $42.6-million, Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said on Friday.

This brought the total amount of diamonds produced this year with a value of more than $1-million to 22.

Further, 26 rough diamonds, with prices of more than $20 000/ct were produced during the interim period, brining the year-to-date total to 78, while 178 rough diamonds greater than 10.8 ct in size were also recovered in the period, equating to 77% of Letšeng's revenue for the period, the company said in an interim management statement.

Gem Diamonds also pointed out that during the third quarter of 2013, 25 559 ct were recovered at Letšeng, which was a 9% improvement on carats recovered during the second quarter.

“We are continuing to look at opportunities to improve operating efficiencies at Letšeng,” Elphick said, adding that, in line with this, the installation of new cone crushers at the mine was complete and was expected to better harness the value of the Letšeng mine as it was aimed at reducing diamond breakage.

Further, he stated that the development of the new mine at Ghaghoo, in Botswana, was progressing well.

During the period under review, good progress was made on the development of the access decline, with a total of 765 m of underground development achieved as at the end of October, Gem Diamonds said.

“The mining face is now in competent basalt and good daily rates of development are being achieved.  It is expected that contact with the kimberlite on the main production level will be achieved by the end of February 2014,” the company added.

“The mine is on track for first production to be run through the plant in the second half of next year, as we focus on building our production profile in the longer term and delivering on our growth ambitions," Elphick highlighted.

Gem Diamonds planned for a steady-state production rate of 220 000 ct/y to 230 000 ct/y, at a mining rate of 720 000 t/y.

Meanwhile, the group maintained its strong cash position with $63.6-million cash as at October 31, of which $56.3-million was attributable to Gem Diamonds.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor



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