Lesotho gearing up for unprecedented mining boom

by Ina King (Potgieter)

The mining industry in Lesotho is set to take off, with a committed and sustained government effort to establish legislative frameworks and infrastructure currently ongoing.

With the 2015 adoption of the Minerals and Mining Policy, Lesotho now has, for the first time, a developed policy specifically focused on its mineral resources sector, providing a solid foundation for the country’s mining industry policies and regulations. The country aims to increase the contribution of mining to its GDP from 7.7% to 10% over the next 5 years.

With about 405 kimberlite bodies in Lesotho in the form of pipes, dykes or offshoots – one of the highest such concentrations in the world – diamonds will form the foundation upon which the country plans to expand its mining economy, with a planned increase of diamond production from its current 350 000 to 1.5 million carats/year over the next two years.

The most recent project to commence production is the Kao diamond mine in the Butha-Buthe district that came into operation in 2012 and is already contributing to the mineral economy boom.

Some of the major diamond projects currently in the pipeline include:

  • Firestone Diamond’s Liqhobong diamond mine, which is expected to be complete by mid-2016 and is expected to yield 1 million carats a year over a 15 year life-of-mine.
  • The Mothae diamond mine, 6 km from the current Letsěng mine in the Maloti Mountains, has been determined feasible and bankable and is currently concluding financing agreements.
  • The Kolo diamond mine in Mafeteng is active, and is expected to commence production within the next 2 years.
  • The Lemphane diamond mine in the Maloti Mountains is also active and expected to commence production over the next 2 years.

In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources has released 33 new mineral geological maps of the country, and updated over 30 more. As Lesotho gears up for this boom in mining activity, it has received considerable interest from large multinational mining companies keen on investing in the country’s mineral sectors.

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