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Letšeng Diamond recovers high quality stone

CEO of Gem Diamonds Clifford Elphick

Aug. 25, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU – The Letšeng Diamonds mine located in Mokhotlong has recovered another huge stone, a 442-carat high quality type II diamond.

 “It is a beautiful, elongated white stone and is the first diamond of over 400 carats to be recovered at the mine since the recovery of the 910-carat Lesotho Legend in January 2018,” the mine said in a statement. 

The 442-carat stone comes on the heels of other stones – a 163 carat yellow type I diamond recovered in June 2020, a 60-carat type I light yellow, a 87-carat type II D colour, a 66-carat type II D colour and a 23-carat type II D colour white diamond in April.

Commenting on the newest recovery, the Letšeng Diamonds chief executive officer Kelebone Leisanyane said: “Letšeng Diamonds is grateful to the government of Lesotho for showing confidence in the mining industry during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic and for having designated mining as an essential service in an effort to keep the wheels of the economy rolling”.

He added: “The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem quality diamonds to be recovered this year, will contribute immensely to the fiscus in the form of taxes, royalties and dividends.”

He further indicated that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will also be used to fund a special community project, as agreed with the government in the new mining lease agreement.

“It is also important to note that Letšeng Diamonds will continue to maintain strict adherence to health and safety precautions during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” he noted.

The mine processes ore from two kimberlite pipes, the ‘main’ and the ‘satellite’.

While both pipes bear extremely low-grade ore, averaging under two carats per hundred tonnes, Letšeng Diamond mine is the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

The mine is renowned for producing high quality white diamonds which are among the largest in the world. The discovery of a 910ct diamond in 2018, was declared the fifth largest in the world.

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The government of Lesotho holds 30% of shares while Gem Diamonds Limited which acquired the mine in 2006, holds 70%.

While it’s hard to establish the price for such stones before cutters can evaluate them, it could sell for as much as $18 million, Edward Sterck, analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote.

The find comes as the global diamond industry has been brought to its knees by the pandemic. Jewelry stores have closed and India’s cutting industry, which handles almost all of the world’s stones, has come to a halt.

The miners that dominate the industry, De Beers and Russian rival Alrosa PJSC, have seen their rough diamond sales collapse.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442 carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem quality diamonds to be recovered this year, is further confirmation of the caliber of the Letšeng mine and its ability to consistently produce large, high quality diamonds,” Clifford Elphick, Gem Diamonds’ Chief Executive Officer, said in the statement.

Amid the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, Letšeng reopened on April 27 guided by a full range of health and safety protocols. 


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