Gem Diamonds to keep Letšeng running amid Lesotho lockdown

Letšeng is the world’s highest dollar per carat diamond mine. (Image from: Gem Diamonds’ presentation.)

Africa-focused Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD) said on Wednesday its iconic Letšeng mine in Lesotho will remain fully operational during a 14-day lockdown that comes into effect from midnight on Thursday.

The fresh restrictions follow reports accusing the government of the small southern African country of having released “several” people who had tested positive for the virus from quarantine.

It also coincides with Lesotho’s alarming number of covid-19 cases and deaths in recent weeks after high numbers of workers travelled home from South Africa for the Christmas holidays.

According to the latest figures from the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec), Lesotho had 6,241 cases as of Wednesday, up from 2,137 on December 1. The country has a population of about 2 million.

Gem Diamonds noted it will continue to implement measures for the regular testing and protection of all of its mining staff and contractors, as required by law and strict health and safety measures put in place at the beginning of pandemic.

Lesotho’s fresh measures include banning all outbound international travel by Basotho except for those who have visas for the countries they were travelling to, as well as negative covid-19 certificates. Inbound international travel by foreign nationals would also be banned.

Most businesses would be closed, except those considered to be in the essential services category.

Letšeng is the world’s highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine. It is also one of the world’s highest diamond mines, as it is located an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level.

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