By Michelle Graff
New York--Two smaller mining companies recently reported that large, exceptional rough diamonds recovered from their mines in Africa have sold for millions.

Petra Diamonds Ltd., which operates the Cullinan, Finsch and Koffiefontein mines, among others, sold the 25.5-carat piece of blue rough discovered in April at South Africa’s Cullinan mine for $16.9 million, or $663,144 per carat.

Petra described the sales process for the diamond as “highly competitive.”

“We are delighted to have concluded such a successful sales process for this important blue diamond,” Petra CEO Johan Dippenaar said. “This result further serves to highlight the Cullinan mine’s unique position as the world’s most important source of blue diamonds.”

Over the years, the Cullinan mine has produced some of the world most well-known diamonds, including the 3,106-carat eponymous piece of rough discovered there in 1905 that remains the largest rough diamond on record.

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd. sold a 164-carat D color, Type IIa diamond recovered from its Letšeng mine in April into a profit-sharing agreement for $9.0 million, or $54,911 per carat. Letšeng received the rough price upfront and will receive a “significant share” of the money received from the sale of the polished diamonds produced from this piece of rough.

The Letšeng Diamond Mine is in the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho, an independent kingdom located within South Africa. The Government of Lesotho granted Letšeng Diamonds, which is 70 percent owned by Gem Diamonds Limited and 30 percent owned by the government, the mining lease for the property in 1999.

De Beers operated the Letšeng mine from 1977 to 1982. The mine reopened in 2004 and Gem Diamonds acquired it in late 2006 for $118.5 million. The Letšeng mine has produced four of the 20 largest white gem-quality pieces of rough ever found. 

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