- Firestone Diamonds' first sale of diamonds from its 75%-owned Liqhobong mine saw over 90 companies viewing the goods and more than 38 companies being successful.

The company sold all of the 75,936 carats offered for sale, realising an average price of US$107 per carat, resulting in total proceeds of US$8.14m.

Firestone said the average price per carat achieved was very pleasing, considering that the carats sold were recovered from the predominantly lower quality ore areas and were not necessarily representative of the run of mine ore.

The company said that as previously announced, it would only realise consistent run of mine results post ramp up, when it would have mined ore from across the whole pipe.

It said the higher quality diamonds were competitively bid for during the sale, which was held in Antwerp.

The best stone, a 37 carat type 2a internally flawless white stone was sold for well over US$1.0m.

A number of yellow and fancy yellow stones included in the sale also achieved competitive prices, with interest being exceptionally strong in these categories.

The company expects to host two sales per quarter. The second sale is expected to be in late Q1 2017.

Chief executive Stuart Brown said: "We are very pleased to have undertaken Firestone's first sale of diamonds from Liqhobong and with the results achieved.

"We look forward to better results as we gradually increase our mining to all areas of the pit and increase our run of mine production over time.

"Prices were strong in the better quality diamonds, with the prices for the smaller stones being reflective of the current weaker market conditions but pleasingly we sold all of the stones offered for sale.

"To have recovered some exceptional white and fancy coloured stones at this early stage is extremely pleasing and we believe that the Liqhobong orebody will, over time, prove to be an exciting one.

"We would like to take the opportunity to thank our partners in the Lesotho Government for their vital support in bringing the Liqhobong mine into production and cooperation in selling our diamonds."

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