A veritable bonanza of large diamond recoveries, including the 910-carat Lesotho Legend, a high-quality diamond unearthed on 15 January - the second largest gem quality diamond recovered in the past century - sent Gem Diamonds' revenues soaring to the tune of an 174% increase in Q1 2018. During for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018, the miner recovered seven diamonds greater than 100 carats, and sold a total of 32,412 carats from its Letšeng mine in Lesotho, achieving total revenuesof $106.2 million at an average price of $3,276 per carat, up 48% from $2,217 per carat in Q4 2017, and up a full 98% year-over-year.
Gem Diamonds sold the 910-carat stone on 12 March for $40 million ($43,912 per carat), which was not even the highest price per carat achieved by their Q1 stones: that honor belongs to a 66.27-carat, Type IIa white diamond which garnered $56,028 per carat. The miner sold 16 diamonds during the quarter for more than $1.0 million each, generating revenue of $70.7 million. This led the company to conclude that, "The strong demand for Letšeng’s large high-quality white rough diamonds has continued." Overall production from Letšeng jumped 32% to 33,526 carats, with a 41% increase in grade recovered (cpht) at 2.16, which includes 2,254 carats recovered through the re-treatment of tailings material through the mobile XRT sorting machine.
“We are delighted with the outcome of the sale of The Lesotho Legend, which demonstrates the exceptional quality of the diamond itself, as well as reaffirming the unique quality of Letšeng’s diamond production," said Gem Diamonds’ CEO, Clifford Elphick. "It is encouraging to see the improvement in the frequency of large diamond recoveries during the Period with seven diamonds greater than 100 carats being recovered, supported by strong production results driving an 8% increase in carats recovered. The market for Letšeng’s high-quality diamonds has remained robust. It is also pleasing to see the significant progress that has been made in the business transformation initiatives.” The company notes that their The Business Transformation four-year target of US$ 100 million remains on track. Last week, the Lesotho government announced its intention to renew the miner’s lease on Letšeng until 2034.