Junior miner Firestone Diamonds now expects to recover approximately 360,000 carats in the financial year ending 30 June 2017, against April's guidance of 300,000 carats, or roughly 20% more than anticipated. Firestone announced on 26 April 2017 that commissioning activities at the Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho (owned 75% by Firestone and 25% by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho) were largely complete and that final ramp up was progressing on track, having achieved the plant's nameplate throughput capacity on multiple occasions since the commencement of operations.
The AIM-listed diamond miner has also started quarterly repayments under the terms of its $82.4-million ABSA debt facility, having achieved first production, and made its first capital repayment of US$1.4 million in March 2017. The current $15-million standby facility provided by Resource Capital Fund (RCF) expires on June 30 and, while the company has sufficient financial headroom to continue operations and meet its debt repayment obligations as they fall due, the directors have decided to extend the standby facility to provide the company with a prudent level of financial and operational flexibility. Accordingly, Firestone and RCF have agreed to extend the standby facility for a further year to June 30, 2018, subject to the company drawing $5-million on signature of the amendments to the standby facility. As a result, Firestone has submitted a drawdown request to RCF for $5-million under the standby facility and, at June 21, the company would have had cash on hand of $13.1-million. The balance of $10-million remaining under the standby facility will give the company the ability to maintain a prudent working capital buffer and the flexibility to continue to optimise mining operations as it sees fit.