Firestone Diamond Plc plans to hold a diamond sales tender for 2011 in late June, after indicating that it’s corporate and operations during the first quarter of this year moved it into the ranks of growing diamond Juniors in the country.
The diamond mining and exploration company is operating BK11 and Liqhobong mines in Botswana and Lesotho, respectively.
The tender is expected to be significantly larger than those before. The company’s corporate and operations update indicates that the BK11 plant had exceeded its 2011 target production level of 1.5 million tonnes by 25 percent within the first quarter of this year.
“Mining operations at BK11 are now ahead of plan, with approximately two million tonnes of overburden and kimberlite mined between January and April 2011,” said Tim Wilkes, the CEO of Firestone.
Wilkes said the improvements came after the company designed a secondary crushing circuit based on mobile crushers to overcome problems associated with the crushing of the ore at BK11 in Boteti region. “This facilitated an increase in diamond liberation,” he said.
According to the company’s June update, additional mining capacity has been employed at BK11 to accelerate the deepening of the pit into the softer ore at depth, which is the principal material that the processing plant was designed to process. “Diamond liberation is expected to be much higher from processing of this material,” Wilkes added.
He expressed confidence that the target of producing 1 million carats per annum by 2014 is one that Firestone Diamond is now well positioned to reach, after another plant in Liqhobong showed some improvements.
With the improvements in Liqhobong mine, which is operating at a rated capacity of 0.4 million tones per annum (mtpa), the company shareholders’ hope for a bigger tender within two weeks are cemented.
During the April tender, Firestone netted P9 million after selling 7111 carats of diamond output from Liqhobong and KB11. The BK11 diamonds achieved an average price of $230 per carat, which is 30 percent higher than the $177 per carat achieved in the previous tenders.
According to the company’s 2010 financial report, while Liqhobong and BK11 are Firestone Diamond’s primary focus in 2011, it intends to use cash flow from its mining operations to identifying additional resources that can be developed and brought into production.
The company has already discovered 84 kimberlites in the Tsabong region, which is considered to be one of the largest diamondferous kimberlite fields in the world.