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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
The mine currently employs more than 550 people.
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. A number of special stones and coloured diamonds, have been recovered.
Firestone hosted its first diamond sale in February 2017. The results of the Company’s diamond sales are published in the Company’s quarterly reports found here.
Tonnes treated for the year to end-June 2018 was 3.8 million, 93% higher than the previous year’s 2.0 million and exceeded the plant nameplate capacity of 500 tonnes per hour (“tph”). Carats recovered of 835 832 were 128% higher than the previous year’s 365 891 and within guidance of between 800 000 and 850 000 carats. Grade recovered for the year of 21.98 cpht, was 18% higher than the previous year’s 18.61 cpht.
The Diamond Resource was updated at the end of the 2018 financial year to account for the mining that took place during the year. A total of 3.908 million tonnes and 1.068 million carats were depleted. A further 0.198 million tonnes of ore containing 0.082 million carats was reclassified as waste as a result of contamination and dilution. There was a net gain of 0.014 million tonnes containing 0.008 million carats due to changes in the pipe contact. At the end of the year, a total of 0.118 million tonnes of ore and 0.026 million carats was estimated to reside on the ROM, in pit and low-grade stockpiles. Therefore, as at 30 June 2018, the total Indicated Resource was 28.910 million tonnes at a grade of 27 cpht containing 7.793 million carats which is a 12.8% reduction compared to the 2017 Indicated Diamond Resource statement. There were no changes to the Inferred Resource.