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Lets?eng digs up big gem

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Mpeshe Selebalo


MASERU — A 196-carat rough white diamond has been unearthed in Lesotho, a leading mine announced on Tuesday.

Lets’eng Diamonds said it discovered the stone last month at its mine in Mokhotlong.

The diamond was yet to be named.

“This remarkable stone is expected to achieve a substantial price per carat as preliminary examinations indicate that it is D colour and flawless, which will produce top colour and top clarity polished diamonds,” the mine said in a statement.

Lets’eng Diamonds is a joint venture between the London-listed Gem Diamonds and the government of Lesotho.

Gem Diamonds holds a 70 percent stake in the mine with the remaining 30 percent belonging to the government of Lesotho.

“Letseng continues to live up to its reputation as a unique producer of exceptional diamonds and the recovery of this remarkable 196-carat white diamond reinforces its position as one of the great mines in the diamond industry,” Gem Diamonds chief executive officer Clifford Elphick said.

Lets’eng is famous for unearthing top-quality diamonds that fetch high prices on the international market.

Over the past five years the mine has discovered some of the biggest high-quality gems ever recovered in the world.

For instance, the 603-carat Lesotho Promise which was unearthed in 2006 holds the record of being the largest diamond that has been discovered over the past 10 years.

The Lesotho Promise was the 15th largest stone ever mined and fetched a staggering price of US$12.4 million.

In 2007, a 493 carat Lets’eng Legacy was also recovered.

It was the 18th largest stone ever found and fetched US$10.4 million on the market.

A year later a 478-carat stone, dubbed Light of Lets’eng, was also recovered and sold for US$18.4 million.

Lesotho’s mining sector has seen a revival in recent years with several mines that had shut down resuming operations.

This has largely been due to improving prices of diamonds on the international market.

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