Modern Mining

In its report on the quarter ended 31 March 2017, Firestone Diamonds plc, the AIM-quoted diamond company, reports that commissioning activities at its new Liqhobong mine in Lesotho are largely complete and that the final ramp up is progressing on track

During the reporting period, 639 000 tonnes were treated with nameplate capacity continuing to be achieved on numerous occasions. Some 103 000 carats were recovered at a grade of 16,1 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht), compared to 58 000 carats at a grade at a grade of 14,1 cpht in the previous quarter.

LiqhobongThe Liqhobong plant seen from the south (photo: Firestone).

Over the three months, Firestone continued to calibrate the processing plant with scheduled shut downs as part of the normal commissioning activities. The modifications implemented were primarily designed to address the low carat recoveries experienced in the previous quarter. While these modifications impacted on the volume of tonnes treated, and in turn carats recovered, the modifications have proven to be effective with the grade rising to 20,1 cpht at the end of March.
In addition, the diamonds are being recovered with less than 1 % measured diamond damage, which Firestone views as extremely positive.

The waste stripping is on schedule and Firestone is in the process of dewatering the south-eastern side of the main pit to begin accessing better quality ore later in the current quarter.

The project maintained its outstanding health and safety record, having reached 4 million man hours worked without a single Lost Time Injury (LTI) at the end of March.

During the period, Firestone held two diamond sales (in February and March) in Antwerp. All 127 590 carats on offer were sold and achieved an average price of US$107 per carat for total proceeds of US$13,7 million.

“It is pleasing to see that the improvements and modifications made to the plant during commissioning have improved performance,” comments Stuart Brown, Firestone’s CEO. “During the quarter, we have seen a steady improvement in the grade with our daily recovery exceeding 20 cpht at the end of March following the implemented modifications. 103 000 carats were recovered in the quarter including 31 special stones larger than 10,8 carats and, post the period, we were delighted to recover our first plus 100-carat stone.

“The final commissioning phase has seen the mine achieve nameplate capacity on numerous occasions which is very positive, particularly during the rainy season.”

 

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