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Blom seeks bourse in Lesotho

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) President Ernie Blom confirmed he was acting as an advisor to the Lesotho Government for the creation of a diamond bourse in the country. Lesotho has two producing mines, Letseng and Liquabong. Letseng, in which the Government has a 30% stake, currently produces around 70.000 carats a year. LSE-listed Gem Diamonds holds the remaining 70%. Liquabong is relatively small in scale. The mine, built on top of a mountain has the lowest grade, or carats recovered per ton, of any commercial kimberlite mine. Its success has been driven by achieving record prices for its rough, which has the highest average price of over $2,000 per carat in the world. The vast bulk of the value in the production is in special stones or stones above 10.8 carats. “The Lesotho Government have asked my opinion how they can maximise their resource,” said Blom who is also chairman of the South African Diamond Council. Blom said he had been approached by various African governments to advise them on so-called ‘beneficiation’, including Namibia, Sierra Leone and Angola. Lesotho's Minister of Natural Resources Monyane Moleleki, was not immediately available for comment, but said in an interview last year that he had studied closely the developments in South Africa, where the law requires producers to sell a percentage of their production through the State Diamond Trader. While supporting the idea of job creation, Moleleki said the prices realised for Letseng’s diamonds highlight that the marketing of diamonds should be allowed in other marketplaces. “Our legislation is based on making foreign investors want to come to Lesotho. We don’t want to carry a stick. Compliance is in the spirit of the legislation, not the means for it,” Moleleki said. There are currently two other prospective mines in Lesotho which are attracting foreign investment interest.

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