Letšeng's unique diamond proposition

Russell Shor, Robert Weldon, A. J. A. (Bram) Janse, Christopher M. Breeding, Steven B. Shirey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Letšeng-la-Terae diamond mine in Lesotho, a small nation surrounded by South Africa, is unique in that it produces some of the world's largest and highest-value diamonds from a relatively small volume of kimberlite ore. The mine, operated by De Beers during the late 1970s and early 1980s, was difficult to sustain economically because of its remoteness and very low ore grade, which made production costs very high. Since 2000, sharply rising prices for large diamonds have permitted the mine to reopen profitably as a 70/30 venture between Gem Diamonds Ltd. of South Africa and the government of Lesotho. To improve recovery of large diamonds, Letšeng's owners have implemented new processing technology that provides better identification of these crystals before processing and a crushing mechanism that reduces their potential breakage. In recent years, several important diamonds recovered from Letšeng have been sold to London luxury jeweler Laurence Graff.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-299
Number of pages20
JournalGems and Gemology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


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