Firestone Diamonds saw an increase in the average price achieved at its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho in the second fiscal quarter as production shifted to a higher-grade area of the operation.
The company achieved $80 per carat during the three months that ended December 31, compared to $69 in the previous quarter, the miner reported Wednesday. Firestone sold 156,942 carats for $12.5 million during the period.
“There is a cautious optimism on diamond pricing in 2018 after positive initial year-end retail numbers out of the US and China,” said Stuart Brown, CEO of Firestone. “Despite the recovery of fewer carats in the period, grades are expected to improve in the second half as mining moves to higher-grade areas of the pit.”
Firestone started production at Liqhobong in October 2016, with the first sale of rough taking place in February. Production during its latest quarter slid to 180,709 carats, its lowest level in the past three quarters, according to Rapaport records.
In October, the company revised its mine plan after the asset yielded disappointing results. However, it set a more positive tone for the second quarter, having witnessed competitive bidding and price recovery on lower-value goods in December.