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Firestone Diamonds confident of growth; SOUTH AFRICA: Exploration sites earmarked.

Byline: CHRIS JONES

FIRESTONE Diamonds has said it has made "good progress" towards its goal of becoming a major independent player in diamond production.

Firestone owns two mines in South Africa, but also has an exploration arm enabling it to acquire licences from governments to search for diamonds.

The London-based group said yesterday it had identified a number of areas in South Africa, one of the world's main diamond producing countries, for possible exploration.

It also has two permits pending in the Namaqualand region of South Africa, which are expected to be granted in the coming year.

The group is already researching a site in the Mopipi area of Botswana and chairman James Kenny said it was showing "exceptional potential" - the country is the world's largest producer of diamonds by value.

The Oena and Avontour mines in South Africa also had a good year, Firestone said, with improvements in production and gem quality prices.

It meant group turnover for the year to June 30 was up 19pc at pounds 951,219, although pre-tax profits dipped 6pc at pounds 387,545 after higher interest charges.

Mr Kenny said, "We have made good progress during the year towards achieving our objective of becoming a substantial independent diamond producer.

"With increasing production from Oena, and the exceptional potential of Mopipi and our other exploration projects, we remain confident about Firestone's prospects for continued growth and development."

Firestone explores, researches and develops sites with the aim of turning them into operational mines. It specialises in high-quality diamonds, which it then sells primarily for use in jewellery.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 15, 2001
Words:262
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