Maseru – One of Lesotho’s most strategic diamond mine’s, Mothae, saw performance for the first quarter of 2021 is 36 percent lower than last year’s due to the lockdown imposed by the government in January and February this year as a COVID-19 control measure.
Lucapa Diamond Company, the majority shareholder of Mothae, said they processed 185,497 tonnes of ore in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the 289,012 tonnes in the corresponding quarter of 2020.
In terms of carats, production was lower at 5,264 compared to the 6,853 achieved in the first quarter of 2020.
“As a result of the lockdown and suspension of mining operations and the planned two-week shutdown to tie in the constructions works for the 45 percent plant expansion project, tonnes processed were 36 percent lower than the comparative quarter (of last year),” Lucapa said in quarterly update.
Despite the dip in plant operation, the quality of grade recovered improved by 20 percent as a result of the mix of kimberlite ore sourced and processed. This helped partially offset the four weeks production lost during the quarter, the report said.
“Mothae recovered 5,264 carats for the quarter, including 96 diamonds of more than 4, 8 carats and 19 specials, including the high-value 213-carat D-colour Type IIa white diamond.”
The statement said the 213-carat D-colour stone is the fifth over 100 carat diamond recovered since commercial production commenced in January 2019. It is the largest gem quality diamond recovered to date at Mothae.
The mine also achieved daily production records of 320 carats recovered and 4609 tonnes processed during the quarter.
“During the quarter, Mothae completed two run-of-mine (raw uncleaned diamond sales) sales above US$1,000/carat, including a record average sale price of US$1m198/carat achieved for the first sale of 2021.”
A total of 10,295 carats were sold during the quarter for a new quarterly record of US$11,5 million achieving an average price/carat of US$1,117.
“The record sales for the quarter are a direct result of the large high-quality diamonds recovered from Mothae in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021. We expect to see an increase in the frequency of recovery of these diamonds from the higher volumes following the completion of the 45 percent plant expansion project in early Q2 2021.
“Notwithstanding three sales still planned for the period, Mothae has already achieved record diamond revenues for the first six months of 2021 during the quarter.
“The first two parcels during the quarter were sold under the new diamond sale and purchase agreement including the cutting & polishing partnership with Safdico.
“These parcels included the exceptional 101 carat D-colour white gem recovered in December 2020 (refer ASX announcement 10 December 2020) and the 213-carat D-colour white gem recovered in February 2021.”