Barclay’s African group, Absa, is providing debt finance of US$82.4mn to Firestone Diamonds.

The finance will be used for the development of the main treatment plant at the company’s Liqhobong project in Lesotho, which contains an indicated and inferred resource of 30 million carats.

The facility will have a total term of 6.5 years, with an 18-month drawdown period for construction, and will be repaid during the final 4.5 years of the loan term.

Firestone has estimated the initial infrastructure and capital costs for Liqhobong to be US$185.4mn and will have to fund the remainder of this before its first draws-down on the facility.

The loan is conditional on the approval of both commercial and political risk insurance by an ECA.

Stuart Brown, incoming CEO of Firestone, comments: “Receipt of Absa committee approval to provide [the project] with the facility for the development of the plant at Liqhobong, is a major step forward on our journey. The board is evaluating a range of options to fund the balance of capital required to complete the project, which it expects to conclude in the near future.”