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· First Diamonds Recovered Include "Beautiful, Clear 0.86ct Stone"
· Only Diamond Mine In Country To Meet Approved Mining Lease Timeframe
· Refurbishment Of 200-Man Accommodation Camp Nears Completion
Global Diamond Resources plc (formerly Lesotho Diamond Corporation) is pleased to report that its Kao diamond mine in Lesotho was commissioned on November 22. "This is a great tribute to all of the staff involved, bearing in mind the difficult terrain in which the mine is located and the extreme weather conditions that have impeded completion of the mine processing unit", says chairman Mr Morven Hay.
In a letter to the private company's shareholders, he says that during the first weekend of operations, some 30t of alluvial gravel was processed in the 150t/hour processing plant and the first diamonds were recovered, including "a beautiful clear 0.86ct stone".
"This is a great milestone for the company and a huge step forward towards making GDR a significant player in the world diamond market. Along with the acquisition of diamond assets in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this places the company in a strong position to move forward", the chairman adds.
In reaching the commissioning stage, the Kao project has achieved a number of targets. The processing plant was completed in 14 months, well within the 21 month timeframe in the approved Mining Lease. "This is the only diamond mine in Lesotho which has been able to meet this approved timeframe", says Mr Hay.
In addition, the Government of Lesotho has signed a 7-year lease with Kao Diamond Mine (Pty) Ltd (KDM) to take over the Ha Lejone accommodation and administration camp where a programme of renovation and refurbishment will be completed later this month. KDM will thus save the initial capital required to house all employees and contract workers at the mine.
The 44 two and three-bedroom houses will be able to accommodate up to 200 workers. KDM's new general manager, Gerhard van Niekerk, who has over 25 years mining experience, 10 of which were with De Beers, will shortly move into the camp with his wife, and the company's administration and finance team will follow shortly.
The other major milestone achieved this year is agreement on the power plant JV project which now has the full support of its four JV partners. The plant is scheduled to come on line by the end of 2009 and is essential to ensure the viability of Stages II and III of the Kao project.
Commenting on the company's assets in the Tshikapa diamond region of the DRC, Mr Hay says it has agreed to acquire from Greenstone Diamonds Limited ten concessions comprising kimberlite prospecting and alluvial mining operations in the Tshikapa district immediately north of the Angolan border. It is envisaged that GDR will conduct selective trial mining to confirm the average grade and value of the resources in order to determine the feasibility of the project. It will then move to acquire full mining licences, if appropriate, which will necessitate the transfer of 5p.c. of the shares in the DRC subsidiary to the DRC Government.
GDR, through its Global Diamond Tenders marketing agency, will employ a dual marketing strategy to maximise revenues by selling large diamonds by tender in Antwerp and smaller diamonds directly to Indian polishing houses from Dubai's Almas Tower. The company also aims to train Lesotho nationals to value and sort diamonds within a relatively short period of time.
Morven Hay, Global Diamond Resources plc, Tel: 020 7659 5200
Ron Marshman, City of London PR Ltd, Tel: 020 7628 5518
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