A total of 941 carats will go on sale in the world diamond capital Antwerp – a number of the batch are gem quality stones ranging from 9.2 carats down to 4.3. So far, 85 diamonds mined have been over one carat.
In total the company has produced 1,206 carats, giving an average grade of 15 carats per hundred tonnes.
Stellar said its trial mining plant is now running at 55 tonnes of wet kimberlite per hour, which at the current average grade should result in 2,000 carats being produced a month. It expects to run a sale every two months.
"We are particularly pleased with the regular occurrence of gem quality stones of up to nine carats in size from the limited processing to date,” Stellar chief executive Karl Smithson told investors.
“As this region of Guinea is renowned for its large diamonds of over 100 and 200 carats in size mined from alluvial mining, we are hopeful that we may recover yet larger, high value diamonds as we continue to process higher volumes of kimberlite over the coming months.
“I look forward to updating shareholders as we progress our strategy of delivering value from our key assets at both Baoulé and Tongo."
The news follows very swiftly on the heels of an update on Stellar’s other project, Tongo in Sierra Leone, which looks likely to provide the opportunity of yet more early cash flow.
Starting with surface mining it hopes to generate US$36mln in revenues in just three years from Tong before then moving on to the more capital intensive underground phase.
An independent study re-assessed the potential returns of the project and calculated its net present value to be US$75mln – 42% up on the previous estimate. The internal rate of return was 55%.
Factoring in the recently-updated grade of 165 carats per hundred tonnes, the net present value of project would rise to US$146mln.
The report assumed 1mln carats will be mined over the 16-year life of the mine at an estimated cost of US$16mln to put into production.