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LIQHOBONG MINE REVENUE DECLINES

By Staff Writers

In the last quarter which ended on June 30, Liqhobong Mine sold a total of 177 521 carats, realising revenue of US$12.7 million (M180 million) at an average value of US$71 (M1,000) per carat.

This is lower than the 211 368 carats the mine sold in Quarter three when it realised revenue of US$16.8 million (M237 million).

During the last quarter, the mine recovered 208 572 carats of diamonds, 34 percent higher than Quarter three of 155 206 carats;

This is according to the Final Quarter & Full Year Update on Operations, and Guidance for Financial Year 2020 released by Firestone Diamonds plc on Thursday.

The mine’s cash balance as at June 30 was US$26.3 million, a 12.04 percent decline from the third quarter’s US$29.9 million.

The mine said this was because it made the first capital repayment to ABSA of US$1.9 million, following an 18-month capital grace period which came to an end on 30 June 2019.

The capital repayment reduced the outstanding loan balance to US$65.9 million from US$67.8 million.

The mine’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Bosma commented that: “The fourth quarter performance was solid from an operational perspective, helping us achieve our guidance range for all items for FY 2019.

Bosma said from a market and pricing perspective, it was a tough financial year, particularly for the smaller, lower value goods.

He said these conditions are expected to persist for the rest of 2019 and possibly improving during 2020 when global rough supply is expected to reduce.

“As reported previously, the Company has actively engaged with its debtholders to ensure it can sustain operations through the current downturn and to be well positioned to benefit when the global supply-demand dynamics improve,” Bosma concluded.

Liqhobong mine is partly owned by the United Kingdom-based Firestone Diamonds through a 75 percent shareholding. The government owns the residual shares.

The mining lease that Firestone Diamonds holds is reportedly valid until June 2021, with options to renew it by two additional periods of 10 years.

The project primarily involves the development of an open-pit mine to a depth of 393m and construction of a main treatment plant.

The mine is considered to be the world’s third biggest underdeveloped kimberlite resource, based on the contained carats.

As of September 2015, it was estimated to contain probable reserves of 36.04 million tonnes of ore.

Lesotho is one of Africa’s significant new diamond producers, hosting Gem Diamonds’ Letšeng Mine, Firestone’s Liqhobong Mine, Namakwa Diamonds’ Kao Mine and Lucapa’s Mothae Mine. NW

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