Firestone Diamonds almost done with ramp-up at flagship mine in Lesotho

Africa-focused Firestone Diamonds (LON:FDI) aims to recover 300,000 carats from its Lesotho mine by the end of the financial year, as commissioning activities at the operation are largely complete and final ramp up is progressing on track.

"While this is below the lower end of previous estimates, the company is very pleased with the increasing grade and recovery rates which put Liqhobong in a strong position ahead of processing the better quality ore in the coming months," it said in a report for the third quarter ended March 31.

The Africa-focused diamond miner aims to recover 300,000 carats from Liqhobong by the end of the financial year.

The company’s chief executive, Stuart Brown, said the final commissioning phase has seen the mine achieve capacity on numerous occasions, which he said it was very positive, particularly during the rainy season.

“We are now starting to move towards the better quality ore areas which will be treated towards the end of the current quarter and l look forward to providing further updates as we complete the final ramp up phase over the coming months,” Brown noted.

Earlier this month, the company announced the recovery of a 110-carat yellow diamond — Firestone’s biggest find so far at its newly developed Liqhobong mine — which confirmed the firm’s belief that the deposit holds large stones.

Firestone spent $185 million building Liqhobong, which started production in October, and boasts over 11 million carats in reserve. The total open pit resource contains over 17 million carats down to 393 metres.

As at March 31, the company had $5 million in cash, excluding proceeds of the second diamond sale of $5.5 million received post quarter end, with a further $15 million available under a standby facility.