LESOTHO – One of the world’s largest diamonds has been found in Lesotho — a 442-carat rock that could be worth $18 million, according to an expert. Gem Diamonds Ltd. unearthed the gem at its Letseng mine in Lesotho, the company announced Friday.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem-quality diamonds to be recovered this year, is further confirmation of the caliber of the Letseng mine and its ability to consistently produce large, high-quality diamonds,” Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said in a statement.

The Letseng mine is well known for its size and quality of diamonds, and BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Sterck writes that the latest find could sell for as much as $18 million.

“A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will be used to fund a special community project, as agreed with our partner, the government of Lesotho,” Elphick said.

The global diamond industry has been struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as miners have seen their rough diamond sales collapse. However, Bloomberg reports of stability in the demand for larger stones considering they are rare.

Diamond is one of Lesotho’s popular natural resources. In 2018, the landlocked country in southern Africa said it was considering processing raw diamonds at home before export, according to local news reports.

It said that it was establishing a diamond center that will evaluate diamonds for determining levies and taxes, facilitate exports and imports and be a platform for selling and buying diamonds as well as collecting royalties on behalf of the government.

It would also be mandated to issue licenses for cutting and polishing diamonds. That same year, the fifth-largest diamond in the world was discovered in Letseng mine and weighed 910 carats.

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