215 carat Rough Diamond is Biggest in Liqhobong’s History

Firestone Diamonds is in the process of selling the largest diamond ever recovered from its Liqhobong mine, in Lesotho.

The 215 carat stone is being put to a competitive bidding tender process, with viewings in Antwerp and Dubai.

“This sale represents another milestone in our ongoing efforts to deliver value to stakeholders,” said Firestone in a statement today (6 March).

Liqhobong, located 2,600 meters above sea level in the highlands of Lesotho, began production in 2017.

The mine closed in October 2022 for two-and-a-half years in response to a lockdown imposed by South Africa, which surrounds the landlocked kingdom.

UK-based Firestone reported Q4 revenue last year of $12.6m, down almost 40 per cent on the previous quarter.

Source: Idex

Firestone Diamonds’ Liqhobong mine back at full tilt as power returns

Lucapa Diamond Mine

Shares in Africa focused Firestone Diamonds went ballistic on Wednesday after it announced that stable power had returned to its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, with the plant processing at full capacity.

Firestone had warned in October that the mine was struggling due to insufficient power supply due to a two-month maintenance shutdown at its only power supplier — Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

As a result, processing operations were halted from the beginning of the month to Oct. 26, when diesel generators were commissioned. The plant then operated at between 80% and 90% capacity throughout November.

While the LHWP resumed operations on Dec. 1, the company said it had to book $1.1 million in additional costs from the use of the generators, adding that it had also filed an insurance claim over loss of profit.

Firestone’s stock was up 128% on Wednesday mid-day in London at 0.97 pence a share, leaving the company with a market capitalization of £6.18 million. The stock price, however, is far from the £3.88 the company’s shares were trading at a year ago.

Diamond miners are struggling across the board, especially those producing cheaper and smaller stones, where there is an over-supply.

Increasing demand for synthetic diamonds has also weighed on prices. Man-made diamonds require less investment than mining natural stones and can offer more attractive margins.

Buyers, those that polish and cut diamonds for retailers, have been hit this year by lower prices and tighter credit, prompting them to delay purchases.

De Beers, the world’s No.1 diamond miner by value, has responded by axing production — with a target of 31 million carats this year compared with 35.3 million in 2018. It has also given buyers more room to maneuver, by allowing them to refuse half the stones in many of the diamond parcels.

The Anglo American unit is also spending more on marketing. At the latest sale, the company increased the amount of stones buyers were allowed to reject in each lot purchased from 10% to 20%, according to people familiar with the auction.

Firestone’s chief executive, Paul Bosma, has said he’d expect prices for smaller diamonds to increase towards the end of 2020, in part due to the closure of Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Australia.

Source: mining.com

Diamond Recoveries Up 34% At Firestone, But Market Unfavorable

Firestone Diamonds

Firestone Diamonds announced Thursday that it recovered 208,572 carats in Q4, up 34% from its Q3.

However, the diamond market is not great, warned Paul Bosma, chief executive officer.

“From a market and pricing perspective, it was a tough financial year, particularly for the smaller, lower value goods and these conditions are expected to persist for the rest of 2019 and possibly improving during 2020 when global rough supply is expected to reduce,” said Bosma.

Looking at full year, total recoveries were 829,458 bringing the company within its guidance of between 820,000 and 870,000 carats. Operating costs were $11.49 per tonne, lower than the $15.00 to $16.00 range the company previously forecast.

Firestone is maintaining the same recovery guidance for 2020 fiscal year. Expected operating costs have been reduced between $13.50 and $14.50 per tonne.

The company is currently negotiation with debt holders “…to ensure it can sustain operations through the current downturn and to be well positioned to benefit when the global supply-demand dynamics improve.”

Source: kitco.com

Firestone Diamonds recovers largest fancy yellow diamond to date

Firestone Diamonds 54 Carat Fancy Yellow Rough Diamond

Firestone Diamonds has recovered a 54 carat intense fancy yellow, sawable diamond from its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho.

“The Liqhobong mine has become known for its fancy yellow stones but this one is the largest we’ve recovered so far and is therefore quite special,” says Firestone Diamonds CEO Paul Bosma.

Although certain segments of the diamond market are currently struggling, the demand for unique natural stones remains positive,” he says.

The 54 carat diamond will go on sale at the next tender scheduled to take place during September 2019.

The recovery of its latest fancy yellow diamond follows the recovery of a 72 carat diamond which was recovered together with a 22 carat makeable white stone, followed by an 11 carat fancy light-pink stone in April.

Source: miningreview

Firestone finds another massive diamond at Lesotho mine

Firestone 72 Carat Yellow Rough Diamond

African focused Firestone Diamonds has dug up a 72 carat yellow, whole makeable diamond at its Liqhobong Mine in Lesotho, the second one over 70 carat it has found this year.

The stone, recovered over the weekend together with a 22 carat makeable white stone, followed by an 11 carat fancy light-pink diamond found at the asset.

“Makeable” diamonds are those whose shape allows to cut one large diamond from it. In contrast, “sawable” stones can be cut in half in order to create two smaller diamonds.

“The stone, recovered over the weekend together with a 22 carat makeable white one, followed by an 11 carat fancy light pink diamond found at the asset.”

The two diamonds, found within the northern lower grade part of the pit, will go on sale at Firestone’s next tender, which is scheduled to take place during May 2019.

Shares in the company were 7.3% higher at 2.2p following the news.

Last month, a white 70 carat diamond from also from the Liqhobong mine was auctioned for an undisclosed price, following a 46 carat precious rock, also from the same mine, which was sold for $1 million in December.

Diamond prices have been under pressure and miners are struggling across the board, especially those producing cheaper and smaller stones where there is too much supply. In December, some of Rio Tinto’s customers refused to buy cheaper diamonds, while De Beers has been forced to cut prices and offer concessions to buyers.

Firestone spent $185 million building Liqhobong, which started production in late 2016, and boasts over 11 million carats in reserve. The total open pit resource contains over 17 million carats to a depth of 393 metres.


Liqhobong lights up Lesotho

Liqhobong 70 carat

Firestone Diamonds has announced the recovery of a 70 carat white, makeable diamond from its Liqhobong Mine in Lesotho.

This follows after a 46 carat gem diamond that was recovered in December, sold for more than US$1 million at a recently held sale.

The 70 carat diamond was recovered undamaged and will go on sale at the next tender which is scheduled to take place during March 2019.

Paul Bosma, CEO, comments:

“The 70 carat stone was recovered in the northern, low grade part of the pit in Lesotho where the bulk of our mining will take place in the coming months.

“Although the market for the smaller stones has been under pressure, we’ve seen continued demand and good prices realised for special stones”.

Source: miningreview

Low Prices Trigger A Four-Way Merger Proposal For African Diamond Miners

Gem Diamond Mine

Tough times in some parts of the diamond-mining industry has prompted an innovative solution, a four-way merger to create a new southern African diamond specialist.

The proposal, from the London office of the German bank, Berenberg, could see Gem Diamonds, Petra Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation and Firestone Diamonds emerge as a single business with enhanced financial metrics courtesy of cost savings and a focus on big, high-quality gems.

If the deal happens, and at this stage it is just a proposal from Berenberg and not something the diamond-miners have embraced, the new business would have mines in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Lesotho.

3% By Volume, 8% by Value

Collective diamond production would total five million carats a year, which is equivalent to 3% of global output, but more importantly the proposed business would account for 8% of diamond supply by value.

The difference between volume and value is the key to Berenberg’s plan which has been published at a time when miners of small and low-grade diamonds are battling a flooded market whereas companies able to supply high-quality gems are generating strong profits.

An uncut 25 carat diamond mined in Botswana.

Values At Trough Levels

Berenberg said in a research report titled “Consolidating African diamond mining” that current valuations of diamond mining companies were at trough levels with lacklustre enthusiasm for the sector.

“We think something new is needed to return this sector to its former glory,” Berenberg said.

The bank said the logical way to start the process would be for a transaction between Lucara and Gem, which would create the go-to business for large diamonds, followed by a transaction with Petra and then with Firestone rolled into the structure.

Each company has its own production profile but Lucara is the best known for big diamonds having given the world the monster Lesedi La Rona in 2015, an 1109 carat stone which sold for $53 million and has since been cut into 67 smaller gems by Graf Diamonds.

Strong Cash Flow 

According to Berenberg’s multi-stage merger proposal the new business would emerge with annual revenue of around $1.1 billion and free cash flow of $200 million.

The merged business would overcome problems which hurt investor interest in smaller diamond miners including low stock-market value, high debt levels, project risk, limited growth options and a lack of return to shareholders.

“Our $1.3 billion market capitalization business would have listings in Canada, London and Sweden and, through the ability to pay an attractive dividend (we calculate a possible yield of 7%-to-8%) and the potential to attract investment from a range of global investors,” Berenberg said.

Source: Forbes