The Liqhobong Mine Development Project in the Maluti mountains of Lesotho is on track to deliver its first diamonds in the second quarter of 2016. In an update presented by the mine operator Firestone Diamonds, the project is on target and on budget to move from the pilot stage to production.
The pilot plant has been removed and the earthworks have been prepared following the completion of the financing plan in May 2014. The project requires 24 months to come to fruition and already the EPCM contracts of R1.28 million have been allocated from a total budget of R1.4 million. To avoid escalation risk R943 million of the EPCM budget has been awarded on 3 fixed price contracts. Thus far R400 million has actually been spent on the project.
The mine will deliver 1.1 million carats per year from 3.6 million tonnes of ore. The main treatment plant is expected to process 500 tonnes of ore per hour.
Power supplied from the grid
A separate project is the provision of electrical infrastructure to connect the mine to grid power. This is expected to be achieved during the second half of 2015, ahead of the initial schedule, which will enable the Company to realise savings against the Project’s budget, as it will be able to use grid power instead of diesel-generated power.
The Project team is now in place and Firestone has already created over 400 jobs at Liqhobong, which will continue to rise over the course of the Project.
The Firestone Diamonds Journey
Liqhobong was acquired by Firestone Diamonds during September 2010. It is one of the most attractive undeveloped kimberlite resources in the world and provides the Company with a strong platform for future growth opportunities within the industry.
With its expected future production from Liqhobong, the Company is well positioned to benefit from the shortage of new diamond mines and potential decline in production from the ageing portfolio of current large scale producers coming on stream and the ongoing rising demand for rough diamonds.
Firestone Diamonds has undergone a rapid transformation over the past year, turning its focus to the development of its Lesotho-based Liqhobong Diamond Mine (‘Liqhobong’), whilst exploring ways to unlock and maximise value from its Botswana and Finnish assets. With its expected future production from Liqhobong, the Company is well positioned to benefit from the shortage of new diamond mines and potential decline in production from the ageing portfolio of current large scale producers coming on stream and the ongoing rising demand for rough diamonds.