Liqhobong

Liqhobong

Key Facts

Location: The Kingdom of Lesotho, Maluti Mountains

Ownership: Firestone Diamonds 75 per cent interest, 25 per cent interest held by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho


Liqhobong timeline


1950’s

  • Ore bodies discovered in the Maluti Mountains of northern Lesotho

1990’s

  • First large scale evaluation programme undertaken on the Main Pipe
  • Comprised satellite and main pipes – 8.6 hectare of kimberlite pipe, contains probable Diamond Reserve of 9.5 million carats

2005

  • Production commenced at Satellite Pipe

2007

  • Definitive Feasibility Study for development of Main Pipe commenced

2008

  • Production suspended at Satellite Pipe

2010

  • Liqhobong was acquired by Firestone Diamonds from Kopane Diamonds for US$71 million

2011

  • Production restarted by Firestone Diamonds. Pilot plant, produced in excess of 325,000 carats
  • High incidence of fancy yellow stones and potential for large stones

2012

  • Completed DFS which set out the basis for an open pit mine with a 15 year life, producing 3.6 million tonnes per annum, yielding in excess of 1 million carats

2013

  • Restructuring in place, new CEO, Stuart Brown joined Firestone Diamonds
  • Production suspended immediately
  • Update the DFS, revalidated initial capital expenditure for the Project and confirmed economics for Liqhobong

2014

  • Firestone raised US$222.4 million to bring Liqhobong into production, targeting 1 million carats per annum
  • Construction activities commenced

2015

  • Revised Mine Plant completed. Base case, post financing, NPV of US$389 million (8% discount rate), IRR of 42%, payback of 4.1 years

2016

  • Construction completed
  • First diamond recoveries commenced, recovery of special stones and fancy yellow diamonds

2017

  • First sale in February
  • 110 carat gem-quality light yellow diamond recovered


  • Comprises Satellite and Main pipes, with associated dykes, discovered in the 1950s
  • 8.6 hectare kimberlite pipe containing a probable Diamond Reserve of 9.5 million carats
  • High incidence of fancy yellow stones and potential for large stones
  • Mine plan is for open pit mining to 383 metres over 15 years producing up to 1 million carats per annum, treating 3.6 million tonnes of ore
  • Construction completed and diamond recoveries commenced 2016
  • First sales completed in Q1 2017
  • Commercial production expected late Q2 2017

Senior management team

Stuart Brown – Chief Executive Officer
Glenn Black – Chief Project Officer
Paul Bosma – General Manager
Gideon Scheepers – Metallurgical Lead
Ernst du Plessis – Mechanical Lead
Gert Buitendach – Mining Lead
Polite Kutjwe – Mineral Resource Manager

The mine currently employs more than 550 people.


Mine description

The Liqhobong Diamond Mine (‘Liqhobong’) in Lesotho is Firestone’s principal asset, and was acquired as a result of the acquisition of Kopane Diamond Developments plc in September 2010. Liqhobong is located at the head of the Liqhobong Valley in the Maluti Mountains of northern Lesotho and is operated by Liqhobong Mining Development Company (Proprietary) Limited (‘LMDC’), which is 75% owned by Firestone Diamonds and 25% owned by the Government of Lesotho.

The diamond deposit was first discovered in the late 1950s, and over the past 60 years it has been through a series of feasibility studies and trial mining phases, none of which proved to be financially viable. In 2010, Firestone acquired its 75% interest and successfully completed all the required work to finalise a detailed definitive feasibility study and subsequently raised the necessary funds to begin building in 2014.

The Company successfully completed its fast paced construction schedule for Liqhobong, which commenced in July 2014, in early Q4 2016, with zero lost time injuries, on time and on budget. Liqhobong joined the short list of diamond producers in October 2016, as its production ramp-up started. To date a number of special stones and fancy yellow diamonds, including a 110 carat gem-quality light yellow diamond have been recovered. The Company hopes these are the first of many more to come.

Firestone hosted its first diamond sale in February 2017 and in future plans to host two per quarter. The results will be published in the Company’s quarterly reports found here.

Commercial production is scheduled for Q2 2017 and once in full production the mine will aim to treat 3.6 million tonnes of ore to recover an average of 1 million carats per annum, over an initial mine life of 15 years via an open pit mine to a depth of 383 metres.

The Diamond Resource currently extends to approximately 520 metres below surface, totalling around 23 million carats at an average grade of 28 carats per hundred tonnes at a 1.25mm bottom cut off (“BCO”). Importantly, the potential exists to extend the mine life as the Diamond Resource is open at depth. The deepest vertical hole drilled to date terminated in kimberlite at 650 metres below surface.

The diamonds are valued at Liqhobong at an average of US$131 per carat (October 2015), giving a gross in situ value of US$3.4 billion with an NPV of US$389 million (8% discount) and an IRR of 42% (Rand/US$ rates of 13.27 to 1US$).