Lucara's Revenues Fall in 2017 while Average Price Per Carat Rises

Mining and Exploration
21/02/2018 09:01

Lucara Diamond achieved revenues of $220.8 million over the course of the full year 2017 (2016: $295.5 million) including the sale of the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona (LLR) for $53.0 million ($47,777 per carat). Including the sale of the LLR, the miner's 2017 average sales price was $847 per carat compared to 2016 average sales price of $824 per carat (including the sale of 813 carat Constellation diamond for $63.1 million). Excluding the sale of the LLR, the average sales price for 2017 was $647 per carat, which was in line with the 2016 average sales price of $649 excluding the sale of the 813 carat Constellation diamond. The company adds that, "The consistently strong sales price demonstrates the quality of Karowe's south lobe diamonds in a market where average diamond prices have decreased by up to 10% in certain size and quality fractions in 2017." Lucara sold 260,526 carats in 2017, a 100,000 carat drop from the 358,806 carats sold a year ago. This mirrors their carat recovery which fell to 249,767 carats from 353,974 carats as the company's new mining contractor, Aveng Moolmans, experienced equipment availability issues that resulted in decreased ore and waste mined during the year.

Highlighting the promise of south lobe of the Karowe mine in Botswana is its continued production of high value diamonds during the year, with a total of 521 specials (+10.8 carats), representing a 5.6% weight percentage of total recovered carats in 2017 (2016: 4.9%). Lucara's EBITDA in 2017 was $113.5 million (2016: $185.4 million), and its year end cash position was $61.1 million (2016: $53.3 million). The increase in cash during the year is primarily due to the sale of the LLR which was partially offset by the Company's capital expenditures of $34.2 million for the Mega Diamond Recovery ('MDR') and Sub-middles XRT capital projects, stripping costs of $32.9 million of which $24.8 million was capitalized and dividend payments of $29.4 million. The Company's $50 million credit facility remains undrawn. Earnings for 2017 were $65.1 million (2016: $70.7 million) and basic earnings per share were $0.17 for the year ended December 31, 2017 (2016: $0.19). Lucara once again paid its quarterly dividend of CA$0.025 per share on December 14, 2017 for a cumulative annual dividend of CA$0.10 per share in 2017 or a total of $29.4 million cash dividend to our shareholders in 2017.

William Lamb, President and Chief Executive Officer explained, "The Company continued to receive strong prices for the sale of our diamonds this year demonstrating the quality of the south lobe diamonds at Karowe. Our capital projects for enhanced diamond recovery were completed on time and within budget and will ensure maximum value is recovered at the mine. These systems are operating well and above expectation. We are advancing our resource expansion work with the underground study at Karowe, with a pre-feasibility study to be completed during the second half of 2018." Concerning their expansion work, the company's drilling program at the Karowe Mine to test the AK06 kimberlite at depths below 400m metres was completed during the year. An updated resource update is expected to be complete in Q2, 2018 and the pre-feasibility level study for the Karowe AK06 underground development is underway. Looking forward, Karowe is forecast to process 2.5-2.8 million tons of ore, producing between 270,000 and 290,000 carats of diamonds in 2018. Revenue is forecast between $170 million and $200 million.