Paragon Diamonds has received a mining licence from the Lesotho Ministry of Mines for its 85%-owned Lemphane Kimberlite project in Lesotho.
The license, which has a duration of ten years until 9 October 2023, was issued in terms of Section 33 of the terms of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2005.
In accordance with the approved program of mining, the license is subjected to the conditions of Section 59 (royalty) and Section 63 (fees) of the Act.
The approved programme of mining is for a two year, stage 1 mine plan of 540,000t per annum.
Upon completion of stage 1, the company will start an eight-year stage 2 mine plan of 3,000,000t per annum for an initial open-pit life of ten years.
Paragon managing director Stephen Grimmer said the mining license award marks a major milestone and follows two years of considerable exploration and development work on the Lemphane Kimberlite.
"We now look forward to developing the Kingdom of Lesotho's newest diamond mine," Grimmer added.
The company said it will provide an operational update soon on the implementation of the stage 1 mine plan, which is considerably enlarged from the original 200,000t annually, thereby shortening the development path.
Paragon chairman Martin Doyle said the company's work to date indicates that the Lemphane Kimberlite has a potential multi-billion dollar resource.
"I look forward to the prospect of reporting on the recovery of exceptional gem diamonds for which the region is famous, such as the 12.47 carat blue diamond recovered from Letseng and recently sold by Gem Diamonds for a record $7.5m or $603,047 per carat," Doyle said.
Image: The approved programme of mining is for a two year stage 1 mine plan of 540,000t per annum. Photo: Courtesy of Paragon Diamonds.