While the pandemic brought about an unprecedented shock to the whole diamond value chain in 2020, in a way it may also have acted as a catharsis of sorts for an industry that has been struggling to regain footing in recent years, in part due to a misalignment of supply and demand.
A Canadian court has granted Rio Tinto's Diavik subsidiary the permission to sell the rough stones from the troubled Dominion Diamond Mines, partner in the Diavik mine, which Rio Tinto was holding to recoup US$90+m in debts, unpaid cash calls to operate the mine.
In Luanda, the state-owned diamond company Sodiam has opened a retail store, in collaboration with KGK, the diamond company that also operates a polishing factory in the country. Earlier, Mines minister Diamantino Azevedo announced the government is going ahead with plans to develop a diamond hub in a free-trade zone, which is said to include a research and training facility as well as a diamond bourse.
According to Mining Weekly, citing Botswana Central Bank data, exports of rough diamonds in Q3 nosedived to -66%. Debswana, the 50/50 joint venture between miner De Beers and the Government of Botswana, representing the bulk of the country's diamond exports, reported exporting a mere US$287m worth of rough in Q3 2020, compared to US$863m in Q3 2019.
Gem Diamonds reports that its Q3 Antwerp tender results achieved an average of US$2,215 per carat, exceeding (pre-covid) H2 2019 prices. The strong results, excluding a little under US$30m of proceeds of the September tender that arrived after the Q3 period ended, and continued cost control are further boosting the miner's balance sheets, to positive cash flow. The latest tender in September included the sale of the 439 carat Letšeng Icon. The miner reopened the mine in Q2 and has fully resumed all activitities at the Lesotho Letšeng operation, including waste mining activities in July.
Petra Diamonds in its trading update for Q1 FY 2021 (July through to September) reports a 10% decrease in production to 974,346ct, which the miner attributes largely to the continued care and maintenance status of the Wiliamson mine in Tanzania. The miner also reports a 33% increase in revenue, to US$82m, as Petra released inventory from Q4 2020 and rough prices at the latest tenders (September and October) firmed up significantly, although still 10% below pre-covid tender results, the company statement adds.
Rapaport reports that Rio Tinto's Diavik subsidiary Diavik Diamond Mines Inc (DDMI) has asked a Canadian court to allow a sale of Dominion owned rough diamonds from the mine, to compensate for outstanding payments to Rio Tinto, amounting to US$90+ million, to be able to continue operations at the mine. Previously, the court had already granted DDMI the right to hold some of the rough as collateral while Dominion is under protection from creditors.
In a press release, Russian miner Alrosa has announced it will extend its long-term customer 2018-2020 contracts through to Q1 2021. Normally, the miner would be evaluating its long-term contracts as well as prospective members of its Alrosa Alliance. Due to the pandemic disrupting normal trade and the continued uncertainty, Alrosa has decided to maintain flexibility towards clients and postpone the planned review of clients and the decisions on new three-year contracts for five months.
In a latest update, Australia based miner Lucapa has adjusted its indicated and inferred diamond resource estimates at the Mothae operation to an estimated 280k ct, 3.1cpht at an average value of US$635/ct and 960k ct, 2.44cpht at an average value of US$601/ct respectively. In the release, Lucapa managing director Stephen Wetherall commented on the 280% increase in indicated resource; " The increase in tonnes and carats, ..., strongly supports an expansion in production at Mothae that the partners are considering"
Junior miner BlueRock operating the Kareevlei mine in Kimberley, South Africa, reports stronger than expected production and higher grades in Q3, or 5,577 ct compared to 3,973ct in Q3 2019, at an average price of US$330 per carat. In May, BlueRock announced it will be collaborating with Antwerp-based tender specialist Bonas Group for the sale of its rough diamonds.
CBC news reports that negotiations around the US$126 million sale of a number of Dominion's assets, including the Ekati mine, to affiliates of owner Washington Companies have reached an "impasse" with no chance to reach an agreement before the deadline of Oct 14.
Petra Diamonds today announced that it has recovered five extremely rare blue rough diamonds at its Cullinan mine, of 25.75 ct, 21.25 ct, 17.57 ct, 11.42 ct and 9.61 ct respectively. The last discovery of a blue rough stone dates back exactly one year ago, and blue diamonds are considered as one of the most rare in fancy colored stones, making it all the more extraordinary that five diamonds are recovered in one week's production.
Osisko Gold Royalties, one of the secured creditors which acquired Stornoway's assets and properties a year ago as well as its debts and liabilities yesterday announced the Renard mine operations will resume later this month, after a four-month suspension due to liquidity issues. The restart plan includes a further cost reduction of $30 million and a commitment to boost working capital with another $30 million by shareholders. Stornoway is also expected to bring over 300k carats of unsold rough to the market later this year.
Mining Review reports that Lucapa's Lesotho Mothae mine, which had been placed on care and maintenance due to the pandemic at the end of March, will resume activities later this year. In addition, the Lesotho government has approved a proposal that will allow the Australia-based miner to market its rough diamonds through direct partnerships with diamantaires, similar to what Lucapa has implemented for its Lulo (Angola) operation. “Mothae is a unique mine and an important contributor to the Basotho nation.
For the second consecutive month, Lucapa had a record-breaking production at its Angolan Lulo operation, recovering 3852 ct, as mining focused on the MB06 Ieziria flood plain.
Ireland headquartered Botswana Diamonds is looking to raise £300,000 (US$394,403) via a share offering to fund further exploration and development of its assets in South Africa and Botswana this year. In South Africa, the company is drilling on the (M8) Marsfontein concession and other identified kimberlite targets at Thorny River, while in Botswana, efforts are focused on the recently acquired Sekaka Diamonds KX36 project.
In a Q&A following the announcement of interim results, GEM Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said the company is not pursuing any of Petra's assets. "They are lovely assets but there is a massive debt pile and everyone looks at this in the same way … We’re near the end of all this.”, Elphick said. In the first half of 2020, GEM Diamonds reported a US$1.7 million loss, compared to a US$ 4.2 million profit in the same period last year, and the Letseng mine production forecast was adjusted to 96,000ct down from 100,000ct.
According to an opinion piece by Rough&Polished's Sergey Goryainov, the Russian State Repository may be in the process of buying US$ 1 billion worth of (rough) diamonds from Alrosa, the Russian mining giant, to alleviate the pressure on the company as the industry suffers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The author believes that what he describes as a "bailout" for both the industry and Alrosa by the Gokhran is inevitable and necessary move.
Gem Diamonds announced the recovery of a massive 442ct Type II rough at its Letšeng mine in Lesotho, one of the larger high quality stones recovered this year. The discovery is welcome news at a time when the global pandemic is putting a lot of strain on the global diamond industry, miners in particular. The London listed company's stock jumped 10.7% as the news came out. "A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will be used to fund a special community project, as agreed with our partners the Government of Lesotho", Clifford Elphick CEO of Gem Diamonds commented.
Alrosa today announced that the company has mined the largest Russian, natural colored rough diamond to date, a 236ct stone of intense yellow-brown color, from its Ebelyakh mine in Yakutia, Russia. The stone is sent Alrosa's research center where it will be studied to decide whether the company will sell it as a rough or cut it in-house. It is not the first time natural colored diamonds are discovered at the alluvial diamond deposit, located on the Anabar River of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).
According to MiningMX, GEM Diamonds, operating the high-quality diamond yielding Letšeng mine in Lesotho, halved its net debt to $5.5 million (compared to $10.1 million at the end of 2019) as a result of improving efficiency and successfully reducing costs, such as management salary cuts that remain in place, as well as higher than expected sales results, with an average of $1,707 per carat in the first half of the year.
Alrosa, the world's largest diamond producer and Brilliant Earth, the retailing company that focuses on responsibly sourced fine jewelry including natural and lab-grown diamonds, have partnered for an exclusive jewelry collection under Alrosa's "Diamonds That Care" campaign. The pieces, ranging in price from $790 to $2,190, are made of recycled gold and include natural brownish diamonds mined in the Russian Yakutia region.
At its Annual General Meeting presentation, Lucapa, the Australian company operating two of the world's highest $ per carat diamond mines, Lulo in Angola (alluvial) and Mothae in Lesotho (kimberlite), sized up the effects of the COVID pandemic on the company's operations and performance.
Bloomberg reports that in a letter to De Beers' staff, seen by Bloomberg News, the company's CEO, Bruce Cleaver, has communicated the company is looking into ways to reduce costs and increase revenue across all operations. Sales have dropped dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic and the company fears demand for diamonds is not likely to improve in the short term. According to Bloomberg, insiders believe the restructuring could also involve job cuts and changes to the traditional selling system of sights and sightholders.
Gibb River Diamonds, the company holding the lease on the Ellendale mine in West Kimberley since December 2019, welcomes a recent drop in royalty rate - from 7.5% to 5% - by Western Australia authorities. The Ellendale mine, which in the past produced 50% of the world's typical fancy yellows for Tiffany & C° hasn't produced diamonds since 2015, when former owner Kimberley Diamonds decided to only focus on their Botswana project.
According to Africa Intelligence, for the first time in 45 years, Ivory Coast could be at the brink of restarting diamond mining at four concessions, around the town of Séguéla, owned by company Transactysglasol, with trading office Glasol in Antwerp, headed by new CEO and French national Nicolas de Lesguern. According to Africa Intelligence, production is scheduled to start in November, when the semi-industrial mining sites are operational. In recent years, the country barely produced any rough diamonds, representing 0.02% of global rough diamond production.
Firestone Diamonds is extending the temporary closure of the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, until April 2021 or until the market improves. Firestone slashed salaries and has let go most of the workers operating at the mine, which is Firestone's main asset. The company's BK11 operation in Orapa region Botswana, has been under care and maintenance for several years.
Botswana Diamonds PLC today announced it has acquired 100% of the Sekaka (Sekaka Diamonds (Pty) Limited (Sekaka) is Petra’s wholly owned operating subsidiary in Botswana) shares of the KX36 diamond discovery in Botswana, alongside two prospecting licenses and a diamond processing plant. The consideration comprises a cash payment of US$300,000 and a 5% royalty on future revenues.
Petra Diamonds has announced it is open to offers for (parts of) the company, after a strategic review of mounting debts, now at US$650 million. Only last year, Richard Duffy took over from former CEO Johan Dippenaar, with the task to turn around the troubled miner's balance sheets. The Covid-19 pandemic now foils the ongoing optimization and restructuring introduced by Duffy, as mines were forced to shut down and the global diamond market came to grinding halt.
Rio Tinto has ended speculation about a potential move to acquire Dominion Diamond Mines' 40% share in the Diavik mine in Canada's Northwest Territories, which would give the global miner full control of the mine in which it currently owns a 60% stake. According to a May 28 court filing, Rio "does not seek to bid" on Dominion's stake, nor does it intend to acquire Dominion's Ekati mine.
According to a Business Wire news release, Canadian miner Dominion has signed a letter of intent with an affiliate of the Washington Companies to sell all of Dominion's assets for approx. US$126 million, and has made an agreement for up to US$60 million in short-term financing from Washington. In April, Dominion filed for and obtained insolvency protection under the CCAA. The agreements will allow Dominion to resume operations at the Ekati mine and meet obligations owed to employees.
Mining Weekly reports that UK-based BlueRock, operating the Kareevlei mine in Kimberley, South Africa, will be marketing its goods through Antwerp starting at the end June, in an agreement with Bonas-Couzyn, the Antwerp-based diamond consultancy and tender house. By choosing Antwerp, the world's largest rough market, over the much smaller domestic market, the company hopes to boost sales as the market recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Canadian judge has ordered the Rio Tinto subsidiary, in the joint venture managing the Diavik mine, to release Dominion's share of production that Rio Tinto has been holding as collateral for overdue payments. Dominion Diamonds filed for protection last week granting the company protection from creditors.
De Beers has launched its online "Buy platform", a segment of the De Beers Group Auctiones, where Registered Buyers can now buy rough diamonds online. The platform works like any other e-commerce platform, where buyers can search, "view" and select goods, add them to their shopping cart and complete their purchase via a virtual checkout. In addition buyers can create favorite products, which are assorted in four categories; "very high-end", "high-end", "mid market" and "low-end".
Canadian mining company Lucara Diamonds reports a net loss of $3.2 million in Q1, a result of the continued strain on the diamond mining industry and decreased revenues from sales, despite the fact that operations at Karowé have continued throughout the crisis and production was in line with guidance. In the same period last year, the company achieved a net income of $7.4 million, while cash flow dropped to $2.4 million, compared to $10.6 million in Q1 2019.
Star Diamond Corporation recently announced that Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. (RTEC) has commenced the processing of bulk samples from RTEC's trench cutter program at the Orion South Diamond Project in Saskatchewan, Canada. These bulk samples, estimated by RTEC to be approximately 8,271 wet tonnes, were collected in 2019 and are stored on-site in approximately 6,848 cubic metre bulk bags.
Gem Diamonds has been granted permission by the government of Lesotho to reopen its Letšeng Mine following the three week lockdown, with effect from Monday 27 April. The country will remain on lockdown for more than another week, until May 5. The miner said it is taking all of the necessary precautions to protect its people. The mine is located in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho at an elevation of 3,100 m (10,000 ft). It is the world's highest diamond mine.
De Beers has announced that their first quarter 2020 rough diamond production was in line with Q1 2019 and Q4 2020 output, ending at 7.8 million carats. The miner noted a limited impact from the COVID-19 measures introduced at the end of the quarter in producer countries. Nonetheless, De Beers has revised its production guidance downward by over 20% to 25-27 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats), citing the impact of COVID-19 on mining operations, wholesale trading activity and consumer traffic in key consumer markets.
Mountain Province Diamonds has announced improved production and sales results for the first quarter of 2020, though their sales are currently on hold. In Q1 2020, Mountain Province sold 659,318 carats at an average value of $99 per carat (US$75 per carat) for total proceeds of $65.4 million (US$49.2 million) in comparison to 643,739 carats sold at an average value of $94 per carat (US$71 per carat) for total proceeds of $60.7 million (US$45.8 million) in Q1 2019.
Firestone Diamonds has announced it would shutter its Liqhobong diamond mine in Lesotho likely for "at least" 12 months until the diamond market recovers. The suspension of operations at the mine necessitated by the South African Governmen's directive requiring a 21-day national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic only added to Firestone's troubles, but the pandemic is starting to take its toll right across southern Africa’s diamond mining sector.
Stornoway Diamonds has decided not to resume activity at its Renard operation despite a provincial classification of mining as "essential operation". "The unprecedented global events we are experiencing have unfortunately led to the board of directors to take this difficult decision impacting our employees and a number of our valued stakeholders.", Stornoway CEO and President Patrick Godin commented.
The Angolan government has announced it will extend the open tender, announced at the end of February, with another 45 days, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Angolan Ministry of Mineral Resources and Oil initialised the public tender in search of five independent rough diamond valuers, who will be contracted to handle Angola’s entire rough production, totalling 9 million carats valued at $1.3 billion last year.
The oubreak of the coronavirus has led to uncertainty concerning Lucara Diamond's next rough diamond tender, prompting the Government of Botswana to already give Lucara its permission to hold their next scheduled tender in Antwerp, if necessary. The next quarterly tender isscheduled to take place in mid May 2020, according to a statement from the Canadian miner.
Diamond mining company De Beers announced that its Chief Financial Officer, Nimesh Patel will be joining Spirax-Sacro Engineering. Patel will leave the company at the end of July, a successor remains to be named.
In an effort to tackle difficulties caused by travel restrictions in the framework of the COVID-19 crisis, the Russian miner Alrosa has decided to cancel its special size auction and has set up a digital tender for a number of large rough diamonds, running from March 23 to April 6. Interested buyers will be able to see a full digital scan of the rough, making it easier to decide whether or not to make a bid.
Dominion Diamond Mines (Dominion) yesterday, March 19, announced that it has decided to suspend operations at the Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada to safeguard its employees and the communities surrounding its operations from threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) today officially announced the postponement of the African Diamond Conference due to safety and travel concerns arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The conference was scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa from May 5-6, and will likely be rescheduled for late October.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has updated its estimated volume of carats at the Lulo Diamond Resource in Angola, showing a 25% increase to 100,700 carats despite the depletion of ~19,000 carats from alluvial mining during 2019. The average US$ per carat value for Lulo diamonds modelled in the updated Lulo Diamond Resource has also increase 14% to US$1,620 from the previous modelled estimate of US$1,420 per carat. Overall sales of Lulo diamonds to date total ~US$168 million at an average price per carat of ~US$1,900.
Gem Diamonds yesterday announced that its profit for 2019 took a plunge as weaker diamond prices and fewer large diamond recoveries put pressure on a miner whose product was expected to shelter it somewhat from a challenging market. Gem's profit for the year from continuing operations fell 71% to $15.0 million from $52.4 million in 2018, while its attributable profit lost 77%, falling to $7.1 million from $31.7 million a year ago. The stock market was not kind to Gem's share price, which this week sunk to an all-time low.
Canadian miner Star Diamond Corporation is taking Rio Tinto Exploration Canada to court over what it claims is a breach of their agreement, excessive costs and a failure by the mining giant to share information. The legal proceedings are related to the June 2017 option to joint venture agreement over the Star-Orion South diamond project in central Saskatchewan.
If you want to shine, sometimes you just have to take the plunge. It is by taking this attitude that the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) distinguishes itself when it comes to sustainability, specifically by focusing on corporate social responsibility in Africa.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa has published its financial results for 2019, and while the totality is not pretty, there was reason for optimism to close out the year. As expected, Alrosa’s performance in 2019 was subject to pressure from external factors, and while the miner took steps to respond accordingly, it could not prevent its profit from falling 31% for the year, to 90.4 billion rubles ($1.26 billion) to 62.7 billion rubles ($876 million). For the full details, click 'Read the full article'.
Lucapa Diamond Co. announced yesterday (Wednesday March 4) it had received applications for a $2.8 million share placement to advance the Lulo kimberlite exploration program and for general working capital and corporate purposes. Investors looking to get in on the action which will issue 25,899,916 new shares at an issue price of $0.11 per share - representing a discount of approximately 13% to the volume weighted average price - must be a 'to sophisticated and professional investor' by today (March 5).
Gem Diamonds dug up a 114-carat high quality D color diamond on 2 March 2020 at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho. It is the second stone larger than 100 carats they have unearthed this year. The previous one was an exceptional 183-carat white Type IIa diamond receovered a month ago (3 February 2020). That very same day, the company said, they also recovered another two high-quality diamonds, one of 89 carats and the other of 70 carats.
Alexey Moiseev, Russia's Deputy Minister of Finance and Kimberley Process (KP) Chair, last week held a briefing to highlight the priorities of the Russian chairmanship in the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2020, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance. Moiseev noted that one of the key priorities of the Russian chairmanship was to update the definition of conflict diamonds and stemming their flow to the market.
Newfield Resources is on track to produce the first diamonds from its Tongo diamond mine in Sierra Leone in the fourth quarter of this year, the company announced last week in a press release. Newfield Executive Director, Karl Smithson, said the ASX-listed company is ready to commence the drilling and blasting of the underground decline.
Firestone Diamonds has reported that production during the second fiscal quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) fell significantly on account of the disruption in power supply to the mine in October. The power supply to the mine was disrupted on 1 October, causing the processing plant to be shut down until 26 October when an alternative electricity supply was provided by diesel generators. During this time, no ore could be treated. The mine ran on generator power until until 1 December when the grid power was restored and operations returned to normal.
Rio Tinto's diamond division recorded a $21 million loss for FT 2019 as its revenues fell 11% to $619 million from $695 million a year earlier, according to the company's Annual Results released on Wednesday. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) tumbled by 50% to $151 million from $301 million in 2018.