/ 13 September 2007

Diamond said to be world’s 18th largest found in Lesotho

A 494-carat diamond, believed to be the 18th largest in the world, has been found at a mine in Lesotho, the natural resources minister said on Thursday.

Monyane Moleleki said the stone was an exceptional quality white diamond. It has been sent to the Belgian city of Antwerp for auctioning.

The diamond was found at the Lets’eng Diamond Mine, situated high in Lesotho’s mountains. The Lesotho Promise, a 603-carat stone, was uncovered last year at the same mine and sold on tender for $12,3-million, while a 215-carat flawless diamond found in January 2007 sold for $8,3-million.

”This recovery adds more to the chapter of excellence for this mine internationally. Lets’eng is unique in that, besides being the highest diamond mine in the world, the mine produces the best quality diamonds in the world,” said a visibly elated Moleleki.

Diamonds recovered from the Lets’eng Diamond Mine are sold on tender in Antwerp, Belgium. They boast the highest average price per carat in the world. For the six months to June 2007, the average price per carat achieved on diamonds from the Lets’eng Mine was $1 776.

The mine is 30% owned by the government of Lesotho and 70% by Gem Diamonds. — Sapa-AP