Firestone Diamonds plc which has its operations focused in Lesotho has reported higher rough diamond recoveries with a larger number of special stones (>10.8 cts) at its Liqhobong Diamond Mine during the quarter ended 31 March 2018 (Q3 FY 2018).
A 6.6% increase over the previous quarter (Q2) took carats recovered to 192,604 carats, with the year-to-date (YTD) total rising to 572,320 carats. This yielded a grade of 22.2 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht), higher than expected as well as more than the grade of 18.8 cpht in Q2 and 20.6 cpht YTD.
During the quarter, 93 specials (plus 10.8 carats) were recovered (Q2: 80) which was encouraging although, overall, the average quality still remained somewhat below expectation.
Describing this as a “solid operational performance” despite the challenging conditions due to above average rainfall during the wet season, Firestone said that the recovery was below plan for the first nine months of the financial year.
Firestone also reported that a total of 217,380 carats were sold in the quarter (Q2: 156,942 carats). The sales achieved an average value of US$ 81 per carat (Q2: US$ 80 per carat), yielding proceeds of US$ 17.6 million (Q2: US$ 12.5 million). It said that the rough diamond market continued to strengthen.
Stuart Brown, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Despite experiencing several disruptions during the quarter due to heavy, above average rainfall, the orebody has started to deliver the higher grades we have been expecting and so carats produced increased compared with the previous quarter.”
He, however, pointed out that over the first nine months of the financial year, Liqhobong has recovered fewer carats than planned “due to the adverse weather and higher water levels in the main pit, particularly in February and March, which restricted access to the higher grade ore blocks”.
“We still expect to achieve annual production at the lower end of guidance of 800,000 to 850,000 carats, as mining progresses in the higher grade ore,” Brown stated.
Firestone also reported that it was making good progress on implementation of the revised mine plan which aims to deliver the best returns in the medium term at low risk.