Gem Diamonds, the FTSE 250 listed diamond company, in partnership with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, announced on Monday the recovery of a historic diamond from its Let?eng Mine in Lesotho.
The 474 carat white diamond was whisked to Antwerp, Belgium, where it underwent acidisation and provisional analysis.
“Weighing 478 carats, it was determined to be a type II D colour diamond, the highest colour grading available for a white diamond. Furthermore, the diamond is of outstanding clarity with no inclusions visible in its rough form. It has the potential to yield one of the largest flawless D colour round polished diamonds in history,” the company said.
The diamond, which is yet to be named, ranks as the 20th largest rough diamond ever to be recovered. It is the third significant recovery from the Let?eng Mine in as many years, following the 603 carat Lesotho Promise and the 493 carat Let?eng Legacy recovered in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Including the 601 carat Lesotho Brown, recovered in 1960, the Let?eng Mine has now produced four of the world’s 20 largest rough diamonds and the three largest diamonds recovered this century.
Monyane Moleleki, the Minister of Natural Resources for Lesotho said: “Once again Let?eng has proved its ability to produce extraordinary diamonds and continues to place Lesotho at the forefront of diamond producing countries. We will continue to proudly develop this asset and the rare diamonds that it produces to their maximum value for the benefit of the people of Lesotho.”
His comments were supported by Clifford Elphick, Chief Executive Officer of Gem Diamonds, who said that “preliminary examination of this remarkable diamond indicates that it will yield a record breaking polished stone of the very best colour and clarity”.
“Let?eng continues to reward its shareholders with the production of these significant diamonds and to confirm its position as one of the great mines in the diamond industry,” Elphick told the Sunday Standard. “With a further 45 years of life remaining, we expect Let?eng to make history for many years to come.”
He added: “We had discussions with the Lesotho government today (Friday) and they have short-listed two names and I think they will make the final decision in the next two weeks or so.”
Gem Diamonds is scheduled to start mining operations in Botswana in the next two years at Gope, within the Central Kgalagadi Games Reserve. The area used to be a lease for De Beers but it sold it to Gem Diamonds as it was thought to be not economically viable for a company of De Beers’ stature.
The company has mines in Australia, Indonesia and other prospecting licences in the vast Democratic Republic of Congo.