African miner digs up 442-carat diamond

African miner Gem Diamonds said it has unearthed a 442-carat diamond at its Letseng mine in Lesotho. Bloomberg

23 August 2020

A small diamond miner that has dug up some of the world’s most valuable gems from a mountainous African kingdom has found another huge stone. Gem Diamonds said it unearthed a 442-carat diamond at its Letseng mine in Lesotho recently.

While it is hard to establish a price for such stones before cutters can evaluate them, it could sell for as much as $18 million (Dh66.1m), Edward Sterck, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note.

Given the rarity of such large stones, demand for big diamonds has traditionally been resilient, even in times when the wider industry has struggled.The Letseng mine is famous for the size and quality of the diamonds it produces and has the highest average selling price in the world. Two years ago, Gem Diamonds found a 910-carat stone, the size of two golf balls, that sold for $40m.

The find comes as the global diamond industry has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic.Jewellery stores have closed and India’s cutting industry, which handles almost all of the world’s stones, has come to a halt.The rough diamond sales of De Beers and Russian rival Alrosa, the miners that dominate the industry, have also collapsed.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem-quality diamonds to be recovered this year, is further confirmation of the calibre of the Letseng mine and its ability to consistently produce large, high-quality diamonds,” said Clifford Elphick, the company’s chief executive. –