Kao 2303 108.39ct E
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of workforce are Lesotho nationals



Scholarships to students and new building infrastructure of Shishila Primary School



Strong community engagement and empowering



of water use recycled

Storm Mountain Diamonds (Pty) Ltd operates the KAO Mine in Lesotho and is jointly owned by Namakwa Diamonds Limited and the Government of Lesotho (25% of shares).

Namakwa Diamonds focuses primarily on its flagship Kao mine, located in the Butha Buthe district in the heart of the Maluti mountains in Lesotho (Southern Africa). The mine produces a full range of natural (run-of-mine) diamonds. The kimberlite pipe is the largest in Lesotho and the fourth largest in Southern Africa. In recent years, Kao has also become a primary producer of exceptional and rare pink diamonds, including the recent recovery of a type IIa 108.39ct pink diamond (one of the largest pink diamonds in history to have been recovered), the "Pink Eternity" (47.81ct), the "Pink Dawn" (25.97ct), the "Pink Palesa" (21.68ct) and the "Rose of Kao" (29.59ct).

Social Responsibility

Local communities are crucial partners for the viability of the Kao mine operation. Storm Mountain Diamonds recognizes the importance of engaging and collaborating with the host communities in which it operates. The company’s Community Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy focuses on education, supporting local businesses, promoting good health, environmental projects and infrastructure development.

Employment and Training

Opportunities for employment and skilled jobs in the Lesotho highlands are scarce. The Kao mine provides valuable employment and training opportunities for the local community. The mine employs 752 workers in total, of which 95% are Lesotho nationals, with 33% from the surrounding communities and villages. The training and development the mine offers to its workforce includes a wide range of safety and technical training and competencies, aligned with the needs of the operation. Every worker has an individual development plan.

The mine always gives first preference to Basotho suppliers and provides entrepreneurial skills training to local communities focusing on programs that empower the community to run sustainable businesses and projects, e.g. the 2022 Business Forum initiative.


The mine is in the rural setting where the majority of the population have not received any formal education. From the start, the mine identified education as a key need for the local communities. Since 2017, Kao has been supporting the nearby Shishila Primary School. This support includes building and furnishing three new classrooms as well as a separate staff room. The expanded facilities have helped to reduce the average class size from more than 100 to 40 children per class. The mine further built toilet blocks for students and teachers, and improved access to water. Beyond infrastructure, they have also provided fruit trees, a vegetable plot and a piggery at the school. These are cared for by staff and students and the produce is sold to the mine and local community to provide the school with on-going income. Other adjacent schools are similarly being supported by upgrading their infrastructure. 

In 2022, the company provided 13 scholarships to local students. 

Health, Safety and Environment

The mine's Health, Safety and Environment Policy aligns and complies with international best practice standards ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 and with the requirements of the Lesotho Environment Act 10 (2008). Focus points in the Policy are:

  1. Conduct business with respect and care to people and environment
  2. Conserve natural resources
  3. Reduce, reuse and recycle waste and water 
  4. Monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2022, 45% of the process water used on site was reused and recycled. Several actions have been taken in the past few years to minimize the mine's impact on access to water for local communities, including the creation of several water treatment plants on site (of which one in cooperation with the University of Free State) to treat both process and domestic water, the supply of treated and potable water to villages and building additional settlement dams. All water discharged from site complies with national regulations, and is tested prior to discharge. 99% of electricity consumed was sourced from the national grid. Robust emission reduction targets have been set for the next few years.  The mine further operates with a strict six-step waste management plan.

Storm Mountain Diamonds is now also a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council:

Storm Mountain Diamonds RJC membership

For more information on their Sustainability, please visit the full report in link below:

Storm Mountain Diamonds 2022 Sustainability Report

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July 2024
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ORIGIN: Lesotho

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25 July 2024 3pm