Gem Diamonds plans to double its production activities in June when the company starts mining the main kimberlite pipe adjacent to the satellite pipe at its Letseng operation in Lesotho.
The satellite pipe has already led to the recovery of a number of exceptional gems including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise.
The company has invested US$45 million in the plant based on the expectation that Gem Diamonds will be able to recover large white gems without breakage, according to an interview with Mazvi Maharasoa, Director and Acting Spokesperson, conducted by Mineweb.
The satellite pipe produced an average of 2 carats per hundred tons (cpht) of which 85 percent was of gem quality and roughly 14-20 percent of the recovered diamonds were larger than 10.8 carats.
The current market is intensely competitive for large, gem quality diamonds which has placed enormous upward pressure on the prices of the respective stones. Maharasoa has indicated that while the recovery of large stones has proven to be an asset to the company, greater reliance has been placed on the discoveries of bigger diamonds.
Gem Diamonds has an agreement with the Lesotho government, which owns 30 percent of Letseng Diamonds, to sell its rough on international markets. The company has reportedly indicated that it was considering downstream activities of cutting and polishing.
Gem Diamonds, is also involved in diamond exploration at Gope within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It has since applied for a mining licence from the Department of Mines while it is in the process of finalizing its environmental impact assessment study.
(Diamond Intelligence / Sunday Standard)