Gem Diamonds finds seventh largest rock this year at Lesotho mine

It's a 202-carat, D-color, type-IIa diamond

Africa-focused Gem Diamonds' (LON:GEMD) has found a 202-carat rough diamond at its flagship Letšeng mine in Lesotho, bringing the number of 100-carat-plus stones the company has found this year to seven.

The recovery of the D-color, type-IIa diamond, said the company, comes after it switched to the higher-grade K6 section of the main pipe earlier this year. In 2016, the company only found five diamonds with a three-figure carat weight.

This year, however, the number of significant diamonds recovered at Letšeng has picked up significantly.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, Gem Diamonds has found four of the 20 largest white gem quality diamonds ever recovered.

In April, the company unearthed a 114-carat diamond and only a month later it found an 80-carat, D-colour Type-II diamond — one of the highest-quality diamonds to come out of the Letšeng mine.

Came June and Gem Diamonds was once again announcing the recovery of two diamonds bigger than 100 carats at the same operation — a 151.52-carat Type I yellow rock and a high quality 104.73-carat, D-colour Type IIa stone.

The announcement was followed in July by yet another major discovery at Letšeng — a 126-carat high quality D colour Type IIa diamond.

And only two months ago, the company unveiled a 115-carat rock found at Letšeng, in which Gem Diamonds has a 70% stake with the government of Lesotho owning the remaining 30%.

In a note to investors Thursday, RBC Capital Markets said it valued the 202-carat stone at around $8m to $10m and expects this to lift the average realized price of Letšeng’s diamonds into year-end. This, assuming the company can prepare it in time to enter it into its final large tender of the year, which takes place in late November – early December.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, Gem Diamonds has found four of the 20 largest white gem quality diamonds ever recovered, which makes the mine the world’s highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond operation.

At an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Letšeng is also one of the world’s highest diamond mines.