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Firestone Diamonds - Tsabong Evaluation Update

RNS Number:1474O Firestone Diamonds PLC 18 February 2008 Firestone Diamonds plc Tsabong evaluation programme update LONDON: 18 February 2008 Firestone Diamonds plc, ('Firestone' or 'the Company'), the AIM-quoted diamond mining and exploration company (ticker: AIM:FDI), is pleased to provide an update on evaluation work at its Tsabong kimberlite project in Botswana. HIGHLIGHTS * Commissioning of bulk sampling plant completed on schedule * Evaluation programme progressing - Bulk sampling of 14 priority A kimberlites expected to commence shortly - Large diameter drill rig being mobilized to Tsabong * Independent data review completed by Mineral Services - Concludes that project has 'real chances of discovering an economic large sized diamondiferous kimberlite' * Initial grade estimates from microdiamond analyses expected shortly * Mr Polite Khutjwe, formerly Chief Geologist at Orapa and Letlhakane Mines, appointed Chief Geologist at Firestone Diamonds Botswana Philip Kenny, CEO of Firestone Diamonds, commented: 'With continuing positive results from work undertaken at Tsabong in 2007 and a very significant evaluation programme under way, with 25-30 kimberlites expected to be sampled in 2008, we are increasingly confident about the potential for an economic kimberlite discovery. The commissioning of the bulk sampling plant is a major milestone for the Company, as it will enable us to process our own bulk samples without the risk of delays from commercial laboratories or contractors.' Evaluation programme progressing The Tsabong advanced evaluation programme ('AEP') commenced in March 2007 with the objective of evaluating the economic potential of the 83 kimberlites in the project area, including the 180 hectare MK1 kimberlite, which is one of the largest diamondiferous kimberlites in the world. The Tsabong field also contains 5 kimberlites larger than 50 hectares and 32 kimberlites between 20 and 50 hectares in size. The AEP is now rapidly progressing, with bulk sampling of 14 priority A kimberlites identified in the area expected to commence shortly. Independent data review Mineral Services (Pty) Limited of Cape Town, one of the industry's leading diamond exploration and evaluation consultancies, has recently completed an independent review of data from Tsabong. This included results of more than 4,200 geochemical analyses of kimberlite indicator minerals, all macrodiamond and microdiamond recoveries and other data from work carried out at Tsabong by Firestone and other companies. The results of this review confirm that the Tsabong field is located in a similar geological setting to the major Jwaneng Mine and that it has the potential to contain economic kimberlite deposits. A written opinion on the project from Dr JJ Gurney, Chairman of Mineral Services, concludes: 'The current exploration project in the vicinity of Tsabong by Firestone Diamonds has been well thought through and has real chances of discovering an economic large sized diamondiferous kimberlite. There is a real possibility that the current exploration programme will identify:- a) that one or more of the known kimberlites has a mineable diamond resource at current mining costs and diamond revenues. Such a discovery would likely be a low to medium grade kimberlite with high average value diamonds. b) that a new discovery will be economic to mine, either for similar reasons to (a) above or because it has higher grade than other kimberlites in the project area. In the latter case the potential value could be very significant.' Microdiamond grade estimates Samples of kimberlitic drill core were taken from six high interest kimberlites on which drilling was carried out in 2007, including MK1. These samples have been submitted to independent laboratories for microdiamond recovery. Modelling of the size/frequency distribution of the microdiamonds recovered will be used to generate an initial grade estimate for each kimberlite and to prioritise Large Diameter Drill ('LDD') bulk sampling work. The first results from this work are expected to be available shortly. Bulk sampling Commissioning of the Company's bulk sampling plant ('BSP') has been successfully completed on schedule at Tsabong, and the plant is currently awaiting delivery of material from the LDD drilling programme. The first material scheduled to be processed will be from the BK11 kimberlite in the Orapa area, which is expected to arrive at the plant shortly. Following this, the BSP will be used to treat the 25-30 mini bulk samples from Tsabong that are planned for 2008. If bulk sampling results indicate that significant mineralization is present in any of these kimberlites, a second phase of more intensive LDD and core drilling will be undertaken with the objective of developing a resource. Management appointment The Company is also pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Polite Khutjwe as Chief Geologist at Firestone Diamonds Botswana. Mr Khutjwe has over 16 years' experience in diamond mining and exploration, and was most recently Chief Geologist and Mineral Resources Manager at Debswana's Orapa and Letlhakane Mines - the world's largest diamond mining operation. He has also worked for De Beers Exploration in Botswana and for De Beers in South Africa, where he was Resident Geologist at the Finsch Mine. For further information: Visit the Company's web site at www.firestonediamonds.com, or contact: Philip Kenny, Firestone Diamonds +44 20 8834 1028/+44 7831 324 645 Leesa Peters/Jos Simson, Conduit PR +44 20 7429 6600/+44 7812 159 885 Mike Jones/Ryan Gaffney, Canaccord Adams (Joint Broker) +44 20 7050 6500 Jamie Cumming, Brewin Dolphin (Joint Broker) +44 141 314 8103/+44 7768 044 620 Ken Fleming, Brewin Dolphin (Nominated Adviser) +44 141 221 7733/+44 7971 835070 Background information on Tsabong: The Tsabong kimberlite field is located in south western Botswana, approximately 280 km south west of the Jwaneng Mine, which is the world's biggest diamond mine. Tsabong is one of the largest diamondiferous kimberlite fields in the world, containing 83 known kimberlites, of which 13 have been proven to be diamondiferous. Tsabong is noted for the exceptionally large size of many of its kimberlites, in particular the 180 hectare MK1 kimberlite, which is one of the largest known diamondiferous kimberlites. The Tsabong field also contains 5 kimberlites larger than 50 hectares and 32 kimberlites between 20 and 50 hectares in size. A kimberlite in Tsabong with a moderate grade of 20 cpht and average quality diamonds of $100 per carat is likely to support a large-scale, profitable mining operation. Access to the area is via tarred road from Gaborone and infrastructure in the area is good. Background information on Firestone Diamonds: AIM quoted Firestone Diamonds plc ('FDI.L') is an international diamond mining and exploration company with operations in Botswana and South Africa. Botswana is the world's largest and lowest cost producer of diamonds, with annual production worth over $2.5 billion, and is considered to be one of the most prospective countries in the world to explore for diamonds. Firestone is the largest holder of mineral rights in Botswana's diamondiferous kimberlite fields, controlling over 21,000 square kilometres around the major Orapa and Jwaneng mines and the entire Tsabong kimberlite field. Firestone has 92 kimberlites in its portfolio, of which 23 have been proven to be diamondiferous and 15 are currently being advanced to bulk sampling. Firestone's mining operations in South Africa include a toll treatment operation in joint venture with De Beers at the Bonte Koe Mine Note: The information in this statement has been reviewed by Mr. Tim Wilkes, B Sc, Pr Sci Nat, who is a qualified person for the purposes of the AIM Guidance Note for Mining, Oil and Gas Companies. Mr. Wilkes is Chief Operating Officer of Firestone Diamonds plc and has over 25 years experience in diamond exploration, mineral resource management and mining. Mr. Wilkes is a member of the sub-committee for diamonds of the South African Mineral Resource Committee (SAMREC). This information is provided by RNS The company news service from the London Stock Exchange END MSCSFFFMISASELE

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