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Letšeng unearths sixth largest diamond

Bereng Mpaki

LETŠENG Diamond Mine has recovered a massive, high quality 442-carat diamond, the sixth largest recovery at the mine to date.

The mine said this latest recovery is “a beautiful, elongated white stone” and is the first diamond of over 400 carats to be recovered at the mine since the recovery of the mine’s biggest ever diamond, the Lesotho Legend in January 2018. The Lesotho Legend weighed a staggering 910 carats.

The diamond was recovered on Wednesday.

The mine is owned by the London Stock Exchange-listed Gem Diamonds, which controls 70 percent while the remaining 30 percent is controlled by the Lesotho government.

“Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd is glad to announce the recovery of a 442-carat high quality type II diamond at its Letšeng Diamond Mine in Mokhotlong on Wednesday this week,” said the mine’s communications officer Lebohang Chefa.

He said the recovery of the 442-carat stone comes on the back of the 163-carat yellow type I diamond recovered in June 2020 and the recovery of 60-carat type I light yellow, the 87- carat type II D colour, the 66-carat type II D colour and the 23-carat type II D colour white diamonds all recovered at the beginning of April 2020.

Letšeng Diamonds’ Chief Executive Officer Kelebone Leisanyane said the diamond would significantly contribute towards the country’s economic growth.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem quality diamonds to be recovered this year, will contribute immensely to the fiscus in the form of taxes, royalties and dividends. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will also be used to fund a special community project, as agreed with the government,” Mr Leisanyane said.

Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said the latest recovery solidified the mine’s “undisputed productivity”.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem quality diamonds to be recovered this year, is further confirmation of the calibre of the Letšeng Mine and its ability to consistently produce large, high quality diamonds.

“It is also a fitting testament to the dedication of the employees in the group to have recovered such an extraordinary diamond, while at the same time maintaining strict adherence to health and safety precautions during the global Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Elphick said.

Letšeng Mine has in the past unearthed some of the world’s most remarkable diamonds in both size and quality. The mine also has the enviable reputation of being the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

Below are the five biggest diamonds unearthed at the mine.

The Lesotho Legend (910-carat)

The 910-carat Lesotho Legend was recovered in January 2018. It is ranked as the world’s seventh largest white diamond on record and the largest diamond to emerge from the Letšeng Mine to date. It is the second largest rough white diamond to be recovered this century. The Lesotho Legend was sold to Antwerp-based diamond supplier Samir Gems and other partners for US$40 million in March 2018.

The Lesotho Promise (603-carat)

The 603-carat Lesotho Promise was recovered in August 2006. The Lesotho Promise is currently ranked as the world’s 20th largest white diamond on record.

The Lesotho Promise was sold for US$12.4 million to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, at an auction in Antwerp in October 2006. The Lesotho Promise was subsequently polished into 26 D flawless diamonds, the largest of which was a 76.4-carat pear-shaped diamond. The diamonds were fashioned into a single necklace that is expected to sell in excess of US$50 million.

The Letšeng Star (550-carat)

The 550-carat Letšeng Star was recovered from the Letšeng Mine on 19 August 2011 and named at an evening gala held in Maseru on 19 September 2011. The name was given to signify the growing number of “stars” in Letšeng’s growing constellation of large diamonds recovered.

The Letšeng Legacy (493-carat)

The Letšeng Legacy was named to reflect the growing legacy that the Letšeng mine in Lesotho is creating as a producer of significant diamonds. The remarkable 493-carat diamond, recovered in September 2007, was sold at an auction in Antwerp to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, for US$10.4 million in November 2007.

Leseli La Letšeng (478-carat)

Also known as the Light of Letšeng, Leseli La Letšeng was a 478-carat D colour white diamond that was recovered from the Letšeng Mine in Lesotho in September 2008. The name reflects the diamond’s remarkable colour and clarity, the highest possible qualities for a white diamond.

The Light of Letšeng was sold on tender in Antwerp in November 2008 for US$18.4 million, to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Diamonds. The price represented an extraordinary price per carat of US$38 400, against a global average diamond price of US$90 per carat.

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