Firestone Diamonds PLC (LON:FDI) shares sparkled on Monday after saying its majority-owned Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho had a strong start to the second quarter after selling its third most valuable stone to date.
In the second sale of the 2019 financial year, the diamond miner sold a total of 102,835 carats for US$8.2mln on October 26.
Firestone sold a 68-carat white diamond, the third most valuable stone sold to date for just under US$10mln, and a 20-carat yellow diamond. It also recovered a 326-carat near-gem diamond - the largest to date at Liqhobong.
The average value realised of diamonds was US$79 per carat.
In the first quarter ended September 30, 194,206 carats were sold for US$13.5mln in the first sale of the 2019 fiscal year, compared to 261,985 carats for US$18.6mln in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The average value of carats in the first quarter was US$70 each, which was lower than expected due to a deterioration in prices received for the smaller, lower value run of mine (ROM) stones.
Firestone recovered 240,733 carats recovered at a grade of 23.8 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) in the first quarter, down from 263,512 carats at a grade of 25.7 cpht the previous three months. The group treated 1.01mln tonnes of ore, compared to 1.02mln tonnes in the fourth quarter.
The company ended the first quarter with net cash of US$25.7mln, down from US$27.8mln at the end of the fourth quarter.
“We held one sale during the quarter which was impacted by lower average values realised for the smaller, lower quality ROM stones,” said chief executive Paul Bosma.
He added: “We completed our second sale of the financial year post the quarter end, and pleasingly, the strong demand for our special stones offset the continued pricing pressure on the ROM stones, resulting in an improved average value realised of US$79 per carat.
"During October we also recovered our largest stone to date, a 326-carat near-gem diamond which provides further evidence of Liqhobong's large stone potential and importantly, the ability of the treatment plant to recover larger stones intact."
Shares rose 2.7% to 4.5p in morning trading.