- Firestone Diamonds' pre-tax losses rose to $130m in the year to the end of June - up from $9.0m in 2016 - following an impairment charge of $122.6m.

The group also announced a potential fundraising of £18.5m, before expenses, comprising a firm placing and a placing, subject to clawback under an open offer, in each case through the issue of new ordinary shares at 10p apiece to fund on-going operations at the Liqhobong diamond mine.

Firestone achieved commercial production at the Liqhobong mine at the end of June.

The mine is expected to achieve production in excess of 800 000 (previously one million) carats per annum.

The company said it had

- formulated a revised mine plan to better cater for the current lower-than-expected diamond sale results in order to ensure it can mine sustainably should the lower average diamond values being achieved persist; and - reached agreement in principle with its lender, ABSA Bank Limited conditionally upon completion of the fundraising and approval of both commercial and political risk insurance by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, to defer capital repayments under the ABSA Debt Facility for a period of 18 months from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019 and extend the final maturity date by 30 months to December 2023

The group recognised total revenue for the year from four sales of $27.8 million where 310,376 carats were sold at an average price of US$90 per carat.

Story provided by