Workers at Lesotho's Letšeng mine have discovered an absolute whopper of a diamond, rated at 910-carats. Roughly the size of two golf balls, the precious gem has an estimated value of $US40 million ($50 million).
Image: Gem Diamonds
The rock, uncovered in the landlocked southern African country of Lesotho, is a 910-carat, D-colour Type IIa diamond. This type of diamond makes up about one to two per cent of all natural diamonds, containing no measurable impurities such as nitrogen atoms. Type IIa's are typically colourless, and are practically transparent in ultraviolet light. At 910-carats, it weights 182g. The Letšeng mine in which the diamond was unearthed is owned by Gem Diamonds, a British-based global diamond mining business.
"Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letšeng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world's most remarkable diamonds, including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise, however, this exceptional top quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date and highlights the unsurpassed quality of the Letšeng mine," Clifford Elphick, Gem Diamonds' Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement. "This is a landmark recovery for all of Gem Diamonds' stakeholders, including our employees, shareholders and the Government of Lesotho, our partner in the Letšeng mine."
The Letšeng mine is renowned for producing big, high quality diamonds. Back in 2015, Gem Diamonds sold a 357-carat rock for $US19.3 million ($24.2 million), and in 2006 it discovered the 603-carat Lesotho Promise. The company didn't say how it would sell the diamond, or disclose its worth, but as Bloomberg Quint reports, the precious stone could be worth $US40 million ($50 million) if it's devoid of large internal defects.
This announcement caps off an amazing week for the struggling company. Last week, Gem Diamonds announced the discovery of 117-carat and 110-carat stones. Stocks in the company jumped 18 per cent in light of these finds.
As noted, this is the fifth largest diamond ever discovered. The largest diamond, a 3106-carat stone found in Pretoria, South Africa was cut into two stones and set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. The other big ones are the 1109-carat Lucara diamond, the 995-carat Excelsior, and the 969-carat Sierra Leone.