LocalNews

Massive diamond finds at Mothae

Bataung Moeketsi

LUCAPA Diamond Company Limited has continued with its impressive performance of recovering huge diamonds, with the latest find being two 220 carat and 127 carat diamonds respectively from its Mothae Mine in Mokhotlong.

The 220 carat stone is the largest of the diamonds Mothae has recovered so far since commercial production began in January 2019. The company also announced that it had recovered 3096 carats in October 2019- a monthly production record.

The Australian-based Lucapa Diamond Company owns 70 percent of Mothae Mine with the remaining 30 percent owned by the government.

“Lucapa and the government of Lesotho are pleased to report the recovery of two more +100 carat diamonds from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho,” Lucapa’s Managing Director, Stephen Wetherall, said in a statement to the Lesotho Times this week.

“The 220 carat stone is the largest of the three +100 carat diamonds recovered to date from Mothae since commercial production commenced in January 2019.

“While the two diamonds are not of high-quality, they continue to underline the large-stone nature of the Mothae deposit. Mothae continues to perform well in its first year of commercial production, with another monthly production record of 3096 carats in the month of October.”

Lucapa began commercial production at Mothae in January 2019. A fortnight ago, Lucapa announced that it had realised US$2, 1 million in sales from 7 007 carats of diamonds recovered from Mothae. The 7 007 carats recovered are 30 percent more than their forecasted production for the third quarter ending 30 September 2019.

There have however, been concerns that despite the huge finds, Lesotho does not realise significant revenue inflows from the sales of its diamonds.

For instance, the government only realised US$3, 2 million for the sale of the 910-carat diamond that was recovered at the Letšeng Mine in January 2018.

This is despite the fact that the diamond, which has been dubbed ‘The Lesotho Legend’, is the fifth largest ever recovered in the world and it went on to fetch a whooping US$40 million (about half a billion maloti) at an auction in Antwerp in Belgium.

Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro has previously stated that although Lesotho occasionally makes massive diamond finds including the ‘Lesotho Legend’, unfavourable contracts that the successive governments negotiated with the mining companies have negatively impacted on the earnings which accrue to the state.

He said although the government had negotiated for 10 percent royalties from the sale of diamonds, the state was often forced to settle for as low as eight percent as was the case with the ‘Lesotho Legend’. He said this was because mining companies often pleaded with government to accept a lower percentage in royalties, citing operational costs which reduced their profit margins.

 

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