STUART Brown’s major headache is to deliver the new R2.1bn Liqhobong diamond mine in Lesotho within the revised schedule and budget in an area where topography is challenging and high rainfall interrupts construction. But on-time delivery is crucial, given tight funding conditions, as any overruns might require a difficult return to lenders. First production is due in the fourth quarter of 2016 which allows time for an upswing in currently depressed diamond prices. Brown takes an optimistic medium- to long term view on the market, and insists the fundamentals remain favourable. He says he would rather be in an industry where long term demand is expected to outpace supply than one where supply can be increased dramatically. Firestone has been disposing of its other assets to focus on Lesotho as the diamond resource is enough to keep the company busy for at least 23 years at its targeted full production rate of a million carats a year. Shareholders are not convinced: the shares listed on AIM have halved over the course of 2015. Like any good CEO, Brown is putting his money where his mouth is. He has been buying shares and now holds 0.2% of the company.
LIFE OF STUART
He joined Firestone Diamonds as CEO in November 2013 after leaving De Beers, where he was both CFO and joint acting CEO. He is an accountant, with a Bachelor of Accounting Science from Unisa, who has acquired knowledge of various aspects of the diamond industry in his 24 year career.
- Web Address: www.firestonediamonds.com