Firestone Diamonds slightly surpassed its output target at the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho in the first fiscal quarter that ended September 30.
The miner recovered 199,007 carats during the July-to-September period, compared to 204,000 carats in the previous quarter, it said in a statement Monday.
It sold 195,330 carats in the quarter, including Liqhobong’s second $1 million-plus diamond, a 45-carat white stone. Firestone also reported the recovery of a 134-carat, light-yellow diamond. This is the largest diamond recovered to date at the mine, and will be included in the company’s next sale.
Firestone has revised its mining plan and has opened talks with its lender after recording disappointing prices at Liqhobong. The sales this quarter achieved an average value of $69 per carat, yielding proceeds of $13.5 million. Since starting production in the fourth quarter of 2016, Firestone has sold all 505,706 carats recovered, for $41.3 million, at an average value of $82 per carat.
“We have started moving to other areas in the pit and as expected, we have seen the start of some improvement in average value per carat recovered,” said Firestone CEO Stuart Brown. “Mining will progress into all areas of the pit in time and it will be some while before more representative volumes of all the ore types are mined and we can better establish our revised average value per carat for planning purposes.”
Firestone started production at Liqhobong in October 2016, with the first sale of rough taking place in February.