Firestone Diamonds’ production and selling prices increased in the third quarter amid better rough-market conditions and higher-grade ore from its Liqhobong mine.
Output stood at 192,604 carats for the three months ending March 31, the miner reported last week. That was 6.6% higher than the previous quarter. The mine began production in October 2016, with the first sale taking place in February of last year.
“The ore body [diamond-rich material] has started to deliver the higher grades we have been expecting, and so carats produced increased compared with the previous quarter,” CEO Stuart Brown said.
Despite the increase in production, operations for the quarter were challenging as a result of adverse weather conditions, which restricted access to the higher-grade ore during February and March, the miner said. The company still plans to meet its original production estimate for 2018, however, most likely at the lower end of its guidance, which is approximately 800,000 carats, Brown added.
The miner also noted stronger prices due to a market improvement.
“In [January to March], we have realized slightly better values of $81 per carat, due to a combination of better rough-market conditions and the recovery of a few exceptionally valuable small fancy colored stones.”
Revenue from the sale of 217,380 carats came to $17.6 million during the period, the company said.
Firestone owns 75% of the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, with the remaining 25% held by the government.