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Lesotho seeks to lift diamond output to 1 500 000 ct/yr by 2020

13 february 2017
Lesotho said it is working towards increasing its diamond production from 340 000 carats to about 1 500 000 carats by 2020.
Mines minister Lebohang Thotanyana told delegates at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the opening of four additional diamond mines in the country would augment production currently coming from Letšeng and Storm Mountain Diamonds.
He said Liqhobong Diamond Mine commenced production last year and was expected to reach full production in 2018 while Kolo Diamond Mine was currently under trail mining and expected to start production in the second quarter of 2017.
Just recently, Lesotho completed a sale of 70 percent shareholding in Mothae to Lucapa Diamond Company.
The diamond mine, previously owned by Lucara Diamond, was expected to commence production by end of the year, said Thotanyana.
He also said that an expression of interest had been issued to investors interested in the Lemphane Diamond Mine.
The minister said the country had 20 areas open for prospecting.
“The first batch (five areas) was advertised in the last quarter of 2016 and currently under evaluation,” he said.
“The next batch will be advertised in the second quarter of 2017…prospecting licences are issued for an initial period of two years and may be extended for an additional year.”
Meanwhile, Thotanyana said Lesotho was set to add value to diamond produced in the country.
“Our government is reviewing its mining legal framework and making recommendations on streamlining or eliminating regulatory barriers and to provide for diamond beneficiation,” he said.  
Lesotho was known for producing some of the largest diamonds attracting highest price per carat.
Its operating mines recorded an average price of $931.39 per carat in 2015 compared with a global average of $108.96 per carat.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished

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