Firestone Diamonds, a new diamond producer with operations focused in Lesotho, has announced Paul Bosma’s appointment as the new chief executive officer with effect from 1 July 2018. Bosma is excited to take the helm and shares his outlook and plans for the future with Mpinane Senkhane.
For Firestone, Bosma’s promotion follows Stuart Brown’s decision to step down as CEO and director of the business. Bosma is a qualified geologist and holds BSc (Honours) and MSc degrees as well as an MBA from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
With more than 24 years’ experience in the mining industry, of which 14 years have been in the diamond sector where he worked for De Beers, Bosma joined Firestone in 2014 as the manager: Mineral Resources on the project team and in 2016 became general manager of Liqhobong mine.
His responsibilities to date have included managing and implementing the commissioning and ramp up to commercial production of the Liqhobong mine, day-to-day managing of site operations as well as producing the recently approved revised mine plan. Prior to joining Firestone, Bosma was general manager of a joint venture between De Beers and Anglo Gold Ashanti. He previously worked as vice-president for Pala Investments, an international mining investment fund based in Switzerland.
“I am looking forward to this challenge. I joined Firestone in July 2014 as the manager: Mineral Resources on the Owner’s Team as we commenced developing the Liqhobong diamond mine in Lesotho.
“Once operational in 2016, I became the general manager of the mine, where my responsibilities included sourcing and appointing a competent operational team consisting of locals and expats and managing the production ramp up to commercial production,” Bosma shares.
Towards the end of 2017, Firestone shared an operational update that showed solid mine production, with a quarter-on-quarter increase in tonnes treated since the mine was commissioned. The average value per carat achieved improved on the previous quarter, while the sale held in December was stronger than the first sale earlier in the period. The then CEO Stuart Brown expressed cautious optimism on diamond pricing in 2018 after positive initial year-end retail numbers out of the US and China. At the time, the company also announced a revised mine plan.
“As we announced in December 2017, we are pursuing a revised mine plan with the objectives of delivering the best returns in the medium term at low risk while at the same time offering the optionality of taking advantage of the longer life of mine potential of the Liqhobong orebody.
“The company is on track to deliver this plan and I am looking forward to sharing with the market the 2018 financial year results. The next financial year, commencing 1 July 2018, is an excellent opportunity for us to fully assess the diamond assortment across the entire pit now that we’ve mined through the upper, mainly weathered kimberlite horizons.
“Looking forward, we are still busy optimising and improving the long-term plan based on the latest geotechnical information and increased plant throughput assumptions. This work will be completed during H2 2018,”says Bosma.
The flagship Liqhobong project
The Liqhobong diamond mine is located within the Liqhobong valley in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho, approximately 120 km east-northeast (ENE) of Maseru. It is owned by Liqhobong Mining Development Company (LMDC), a company owned by Firestone Diamonds (75%) and the Kingdom of Lesotho (25%). The mining lease for Firestone Diamonds is valid until June 2021, with options to renew it by two additional periods of 10 years. The project primarily involves the development of an open-pit mine to a depth of 393 m and construction of a main treatment plant (MTP).
“At the time of acquisition, Liqhobong was the world’s third largest undeveloped kimberlite resource as measured by contained carats. We have since financed, developed and commissioned the mine, and are now running at full nameplate capacity without any lost time injuries since commencement, totalling over 6 million man hours worked.
“So far, we’ve recovered two 100+ carat stones as well as two $1 million dollar plus stones and also some smaller, high-value fancy yellow, pink and purple stones, which all indicate the potential of the orebody,” Bosma indicates.
Having previously been general manager on the mine, Bosma is confident that his experience will give him operational perspective in his now highly strategic position.
“Because of the time I have spent as GM on the mine, I know the deposit, local conditions and operating parameters well. We have a committed and competent team that have delivered on all the operational parameters within our control.
“My focus in my new role is to ensure that the positive operational momentum is maintained while further seeking enhancement opportunities as guided by the board,” he adds.
Bosma adds that the latest refinancing exercise undertaken by Firestone placed the business in an excellent position to fully assess the value potential of the Liqhobong orebody over the next 12 months.
“Together with the work we are doing on further optimising the long-term plan, I am looking forward to sharing positive news with the market during my first year as CEO of Firestone Diamonds,” Bosma concludes optimistically.