Namakwa Diamond will start pre-production of the Kao diamond project in Lesotho in January 2011 and commercial production in September next year.

Namakwa is working in partnership with Batla Minerals and the Lesotho Government.

Phase one of the project is expected to produce about 1.1 million carats by processing weathered kimberlite and hard rock.

Phase two is expected to increase production to five million tons a year, according to miningweekly.com.