THABA Telle Mining Company has become the first locally-owned mining company in Lesotho to be awarded diamond mining rights. The company was awarded a 10-year mining lease to mine the Khubelu kimberlite pipe in Mokhotlong. The Khubelu Mine was officially opened last Friday by Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu.
According to the Lesotho Times, the company has three shareholders, Lehakoe Diamonds with 60% shares, the Lesotho government with 25% shares and the remaining 15% shares held by Thaba Telle Minerals, which is controlled by South African investors.
The CEO of THABA Telle Mining Company, Lehlohonolo Nthontho, told the Lesotho Times that his company was looking forward to contributing to Lesotho’s economy.
“This is an exciting feeling for me and has been a result hard work amid many challenges,” Nthontho said.
“We are looking forward to this exciting journey, which will give us an opportunity contribute to the country’s economic development through employment and taxes like other big locally owned businesses.”
The company is expected to employ 100 people in the first phase while the second phase will see at least 600 people employed.
“We are currently setting up the mine plant ahead of commencing commercial production in the next three to four months,” he said.
“What we are doing now involves constructing access roads, water supply systems and accommodation facilities as part of the necessary infrastructure to facilitate production. We plan to invest M60 million in the first development phase of the project.”
Lesotho now has five mines. The other four are Letšeng, Kao, Mothae and Liqhobong mines.
The Southern African country has a population of about 2 million. It is a small enclave surrounded completely by South Africa and has at least 40 percent of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.
According to Africa News, the mining sector in Lesotho contributes up to 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.
In many countries, mineral wealth has fueled conflicts but the reverse is the case in Lesotho where the country has managed to use proceeds from mining diamonds to spur socio-economic development.
In 2020, Lesotho announced its largest diamond discovery from the Letšeng, which is operated in a 70-30 joint venture by Gem Diamonds with the Lesotho government.
The diamond is said to be a “high-quality” Type II stone, meaning it has no detectable nitrogen impurities and will produce a polished diamond of top color and clarity.