Gem Diamonds has discovered two diamonds bigger than 100 carats at its Lesotho mine in southern Africa, bringing the struggling miner a step closer to ending a drought of large stones.
Gem unearthed a 104.73 carat D color Type IIa diamond and a 151.52 carat Type I yellow diamond at its Letseng Diamond Mine, the company said in a statement. Type IIa diamonds contain very little or no nitrogen atoms and are the most expensive stones. Until now Gem had reported just one large discovery this year, after unearthing a 114-carat diamond in April. Letseng is renowned for the size and quality of its stones, with an average sales price of almost $2 000 a carat, the highest in the industry. Yet the company has suffered recently from a lack of big finds and discovered just five stones bigger than 100 carats last year, fewer than half as many as it found in 2015. Gem, which fell to a record low in April, has also been hurt by weakening prices for lower-quality stones produced at its Ghaghoo mine in Botswana. In February, the company said it was shutting the newly built operation because prices had fallen by one-third since 2015. While the latest finds will offer some reassurance to investors, they’re not even close to the biggest found at Letseng. In 2015, Gem sold a 357-carat stone for $19.3 million and in 2006 found the 603-carat Lesotho Promise. Last week, 27% of shareholders voted against the re-election of Chief Executive Officer Clifford Elphick.