Lesotho is set to introduce a new law that will limit foreign mining firms’ ownership in local mines to 49 percent, while the remaining 51 percent will be reserved for natives (government included).
Diamond companies to be affected by this proposed law included Gem Diamonds, which owns 70 percent of the Letseng mine, and Namakwa Diamonds, which owns the majority of the Kao mine.
Gem’s flagship Letseng diamond mine had produced 57,116 carats during the first six months of the year ended June 2012.
It said the mine also achieved an average value of $2‚133 per carat during the first half of the year compared with $3‚052 realised a year earlier.
Namakwa on the other hand realised revenues of about $4.2 million from its third sale of Kao rough diamonds in Antwerp, with achieved prices 3.4 percent higher than initial management estimates.
However, with all the positive news coming from the diamond miners in Lesotho, the country’s new Prime Minister Tom Thabane said the gems were not being mined successfully in a manner that benefits the country, hence the move to review the ownership structure.
"We also have lots of diamonds, but are not doing so well," he said.
Thabane said that the proposed law would not affect the non-mining sector as was the case in Zimbabwe under its controversial indigenisation law.
“The localisation issues mentioned are in the mining sector — other sectors are not affected,” he was quoted by Businessday as saying.
"But it is still a debate. At the moment we do not think we will follow the status quo.”
Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished