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Gem says Lesotho mine continues to deliver, reviews capital investments plan

31 july 2012

Gem Diamonds said its flagship diamond mine, Letseng, in Lesotho continues to deliver, as it produced 57 116 carats during the first six months of the year ended June 2012.
It said in a statement that the output realised at Letseng was 7 percent higher when compared with the same period same period last year.
“Our flagship mine Letseng continued to produce some of the world’s finest high quality diamonds‚ reporting an increase in both carats recovered and recovered grade compared to the same period in 2011 and cash costs were held in line with management estimates‚” said company chief executive Clifford Elphick.
It said the mine achieved an average value of $2‚133 per carat during the first half of the year compared with $3‚052 realised a year earlier.
A total of 361 rough diamonds greater than 10.8 carats in size were also produced at the mine during the period under review compared with 295 realised a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Gem’s Australian mine, Ellendale recovered 78 881 carats during the first six month of the year, a 51 percent increase when compared with the same period last year.
The mine achieved an overall average price of $771 per carat compared to $573 per carat a year earlier, with its fancy yellow diamonds sold to Tiffany & Co. achieving an average of $4 315 per carat.  
Elphick said that Gem Diamonds had a strong balance sheet and, with $ 139 million of cash, no debt and strong operating cash flow, was well positioned to weather the current downturn in the market.
“However, in light of continued economic uncertainty, the directors have initiated a review of the company’s capital investment plans,” he said.
“The review will focus on potentially extending the period over which capital is expended on its two development projects, Project Kholo at Letšeng and the Ghaghoo mine [in Botswana] development, in order to protect the company’s strong balance sheet in the event of further deterioration in market conditions.”
Elphick also said that Gem Diamonds was committed to doubling production at Letšeng and to the development of the Ghaghoo mine.

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