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Letšeng Mine Achieves Record Prices in 4Q

Jan 24, 2011 4:19 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT...  Gem Diamonds achieved record prices from its Letšeng mine during the fourth quarter of 2010 which helped boost sales from the mine by 62 percent year on year to $80.7 million, according to an updated trading statement. The average price of sales from the Lesotho mine increased 74 percent year on year to $3,291 per carat. Production from the mine rose 11 percent to 22,066 carats.

Included in the sales were three exceptional white rough diamonds of 196 carats, 184 carats and 116 carats which sold for $28.5 million, or $57,427 per carat, while a 4.68 carat blue sold for a $725,400, or $155,000 per carat. A total 48 stones sold for more than $20,000 per carat.

Rough sales from the company's two mines combined grew 54 percent to approximately $111 million.

“The reports of strong diamond jewelry sales in the important U.S. Christmas season, continuing growth in sales of diamond jewelry in Asia, specifically China and India, and the fundamental supply demand imbalance, has meant strongly rising prices for rough diamonds and to a lesser extent polished diamonds,” said Gem Diamonds chief executive Clifford Elphick.

Elphick noted that previous concerns that rough diamond prices were too far ahead of the equivalent polished prices, have been replaced with concerns that polished prices need to catch up. He added that polished prices have started to increase in line with the rough trend.

Gem Diamonds started marketing its Letšeng product in-house in October following the expiration of its contract with WWW International.  Under the new strategy, the company envisages selling by tender polished diamonds manufactured from Letšeng goods. During the fourth quarter, Gem Diamonds sold four polished diamonds with a combined weight of 38.6 carats for $4.2 million, or $107,743 per carat.

Sales from the Ellendale mine in Australia rose 37 percent to $30.3 million with the average price increasing 70 percent to $464 per carat. These included 5,444 carats of rare fancy yellow diamonds sold to Tiffany & Co subsidiary Laurelton Diamonds for an average $3,482 per carat. The companies agreed to a 25 percent price increase effective on October 1 and will review prices again in March. The remaining Ellendale production achieved an average price of $189 per carat. Gem Diamonds launched its online auction to sell Ellendale production in December.

“The increase in prices for Letšeng’s unique diamonds, together with the 25 percent increase achieved for the rare fancy yellows our Ellendale mine sells to Tiffany, have enabled Gem Diamonds to achieve record average prices for both mines in the fourth quarter,” Elphick explained. “The group remains focused on moving forward with a number of core growth work streams, which will provide Gem Diamonds with increased exposure to rising and robust diamond prices.”

Gem Diamonds shares rose 2.83 percent to trade at 254 pence in morning trade on the London Stock Exchange.

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Tags: Avi Krawitz, Ellendale, Gem Diamonds, Lesotho, Letseng
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