African diamond firm plans £100m float

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The Independent Online

Sierra Leone's emergence from a decade of civil war has led a diamond company that owns mining licences for half the country to seek a £100m flotation in London.

Sierra Leone's emergence from a decade of civil war has led a diamond company that owns mining licences for half the country to seek a £100m flotation in London.

Sierra Leone Diamond Company is looking to raise more than £20m to exploit its licences, in the hope of discovering huge deposits. The trio of investors behind the company, who include Frank Timis, the founder and executive chairman of Regal Petroleum, will sell shares into the listing, to raise about £8m for themselves. The deal is likely to value SLDC at about £100m.

The company has been in Sierra Leone since 1996 but a year after its launch, Allan Dolan, the chief executive, said "all hell broke loose" as fighting erupted for possession of the country's diamond fields. SLDC has not been able to explore the areas over which it assembled licences. There has been peace since early 2002.

Mr Dolan said Sierra Leone's diamonds come from alluvial or surface-level deposits, which are difficult to control. He added that SLDC wanted to find larger, hard rock "kimberlite" deposits underground.

Recent kimberlite discoveries in Canada were yielding $500m (£267m) worth of diamonds per mine yearly, he said, adding: "The prize at the end of this is really quite significant."

Mr Dolan said that with the end of the conflict in Sierra Leone the country had no problem of "blood diamonds" - unlike neighbouring Liberia.

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