Gem Diamonds finds 370-carat diamond at Letseng

The 370 carat Type II, white diamond mined at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho (Image courtesy of Gem Diamonds.)

Africa-focused Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD) said on Monday it had unearthed a 370 carat Type II, white diamond at its Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the latest in a series of significant rocks mined at the operation in recent weeks.

The discovery comes on the heels on another finding at the same mine last week —  a 254 carat Type II white diamond.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, the company has found more than 60 white gem quality diamonds over 100 carats each, with 16 of them recovered last year.

The mine is considered to be the highest dollar per carat operation in the world. At an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Letšeng is also one of the world’s highest diamond mines.

Gem Diamonds’ performance improved significantly in 2020, despite pandemic-related restrictions.

The miner saw sales rise 4% to $189.2 million for the year, with the average price jumping 17% to $1,908 per carat, up from $1,637 per carat achieved in 2019. That outweighed an 11% decline in sales volume to 99,172 carats.

The company sold 34 diamonds for over $1 million each last year.

Rough diamond production hit a 30-year low last year and, according to Dmitry Glushakov, Head of Metals & Mining Research at VTB Capital, there are no signs of a pick-up in 2021.

Against VTB Capital’s expectations of a recovery, global rough diamonds production was down 28% to 24 million carats in the last quarter of 2020.

The investment arm of VTB Group, one of Russia’s largest banks, estimates that global rough diamond output was down 19% last year to 112 million carats. It expects 2021 production to be little changed as the full depletion of the Argyle mine fully offsets the yearly production pick-up at De Beers and Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond producers.

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