London Stock Exchange listed Gem Diamonds said it has recovered a 98.42 carat high quality D-colour Type II diamond at its Lesotho’s Letšeng mine which will be sold in June. According to the company’s Trading Update detailing the Group’s operational performance for the Period from 1 January 2017 to 31 March 2017, three tenders were been held in 2017. A total of 39 950 carats were sold for US$ 65.4 million, achieving an average price of US$ 1 636 per carat (full year 2016 – US$ 1 695* per carat).
The company said contributing to the achieved US$ per carat was an 8.65 carat pink diamond which achieved US$ 164 855 per carat, making it the sixth highest US$ per carat achieved by a Letšeng rough diamond, together with the sale of a number of other large high value white diamonds including a 114.38 Type II carat diamond which was sold into a partnership arrangement in May.
Letšeng remains Gem’s only operating mine following the decision to put Ghaghoo mine on care and maintenance status, which was successfully achieved ahead of plan on 31 March 2017. There was no sale of Ghaghoo goods during the period. The remaining carats on hand (c. 13 000 carats) are anticipated to be sold during Q2 2017.
Gem Diamonds’ CEO, Clifford Elphick said Letšeng has recovered larger better quality diamonds during the Period and it is encouraging that during April and May, there was a notable improvement in the size and quality of diamonds recovered at Letšeng with the US$ per carat achieved trending positively.
“The market for Letšeng’s high-quality diamonds has remained firm over the Period and this is anticipated to continue into H2 of this year. In addition, the revised life of mine plan was implemented during February with the objective of reducing waste tonnes mined and improve near term cash flows, and we expect to see the benefits emerge during 2017,” Elphick said.
Equally at Letšeng, the revised life of mine plan, designed to reduce waste mined and improve near term cash flows, was implemented during February.
Waste mined during the period was 7 811 416 tonnes and the overall stripping ratio was 4.39 for the Period. This is in line with the requirements of the revised mining plan. Letšeng treated a total of 1.4 million tonnes of ore during the Period, 75% of which was sourced from the Main pipe, and 25% from the Satellite pipe. The balance of the ore (0.3 million tonnes) was treated through the Alluvial Ventures contractor plant, which was sourced from the Main pipe and low grade stockpiles.
“During the Period engineering challenges were experienced at both Letšeng plants that resulted in lower than planned plant availability. As a consequence, tonnes treated in the Period were c.76 000 tonnes lower than planned. The temporary plant availability challenges are being addressed with the contracting partner, and full year guidance remains unaltered. The contribution from the Satellite pipe is expected to meet the original target of 1.8 million tonnes for the full year,” Gem added.
During the Period, 25 479 carats were recovered at a grade of 1.53 cpht against an expected reserve grade of 1.61 cpht mainly due to the underperformance of the Main Pipe contact material, which resulted in a Mine Call Factor of 95%. Mining activities have moved to the centre of the Main pipe and grades are returning to expected levels. During Q2 mining in the Main pipe is moving into the higher grade K6 portion of the pipe.
The Group had US$ 29.2 million cash on hand at the end of the period of which US$ 24.4 million is attributable to Gem Diamonds Limited.