Despite a record year for the recovery of 'specials' (diamonds larger than 10.8 carats), including 33 diamonds in excess of 100 carats, Lucara Diamond earned its lowest revenue in six years due to the lowest average price per carat achieved in five years. Judging by their share prices, however, investors hardly seemed too concerned, as Lucara's stock price took an 8% dip following the announcement, only to regain half its loss back the next day.
According to new research published by the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), one of the most overlooked facts concerning the diamond industry is that the world’s diamond mines are rapidly depleting. Within a quarter of a century, the majority of the 45 most notable diamond mines operating today will cease to exist, and the last diamond will be unearthed in 60 years. According to the FCRF, diamond prices will rise as supply wanes.
"If even a fraction of Chinese production is upgraded to jewelry-quality diamonds, it would have a very significant impact on the global supply which is only in the low-millions-of-carats," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Xinhua News journalists Wang Zichen and Shi Linjing.
Gem Diamonds had a banner year in terms of recoveries, sales and average prices acheived for its diamonds unearthed from its Letšeng mine in Lesotho. In addition to setting a company record for recoveries in a single year of diamonds larger than 100 carats (15) and of diamonds larger than 20 carats (257), in 2018 Gem's carats recovered increased by 13% to 126,875 carats (2017: 111 811 carats), sales jumped 29% to $267 million from $207 million, and the average price rose by 10% to $2,131 per carat, up 10% from $1,930 per carat in 2017.
Firestone Diamonds, a diamond producer with operations focused in Lesotho (Liqhobong Diamond Mine), reported "reasonsable" results in the quarter ended 31 December 2018 (Q2), increasing sales despite the "deterioration" in demand and prices for smaller, lower value stones. The miner sold 191,735 carats during the quarter, a slight decline from the 194,206 carats sold last quarter, realising revenue of $13.9 million (Q1: $13.5 million) at an average value of $72 per carat (Q1: $70 per carat).
South Africa-focused miner Petra Diamonds has seen its shares tumble 27% since Monday's announcement of its H1 2019 results, despite an 8% increase in sales and a 10% rise in production. The culprit? Near-historical low prices earned from its rough diamonds from its flagship Cullinan mine. Prices achieved from the miner's Cullinan goods slumped 31% compared to last year, earning just $96 per carat, and compared to a nine-year average of $140 per carat from 2009 to 2018, the miner said.
Multiple forces seem to be conspiring against the diamond industry these days, and if mining stocks are any indication, the wider market takes a pessimistic view of its prospects. But as independent analyst Paul Zimnisky explains in his latest analysis, "Don’t Give Up on the Diamond Industry Just Yet", to take this attitude as a foregone conclusion is to underestimate the resilience of the industry as a whole and overlook not only the enduring intangible value of diamonds, but also the impact of what may well become their much more tangible rarity.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa has announced its production results for 2018 and Q4 2018, reporting that annual production declined by 7% to 36.7 million carats, while an 8% decline in carats sold was offset by a higher average price per carat, leading revenues to rise 6% to $4.5 billion. The miner attributed the fall in output to the shutdown of the Mir underground mine and the completion of open-pit mining at the Udachnaya pipe.
The De Beers Group has announced its production results for 2018 and Q4 2018, reporting that annual production increased by nearly 7% to 35.3 million carats, while a 4% decline in carats sold was offset by a higher average price per carat, leading revenues to rise 2% to $5.4 billion. They said the rise is production was due to a planned increase at the Orapa mine, although the group's output was in the lower half of the production guidance range of 35 to 36 million carats.
Rio Tinto's diamond production for the year fell by 15% to 18.4 million carats from 21.6 million carats in 2017, as production at the Argyle mine in 2018 fell by 18% compared to 2017, when production was enhanced by the processing of higher grade alluvial tailings. The fourth quarter in particular put a drag on the annual figures, as the 3.2 million carats unearthed represented a 48% decline from Q4 2017 - albeit against a high base of 7.21 million carats - and a 16% decline from last quarter.
Lucapa Diamond Company has commenced commercial diamond recoveries at its new 1.1Mtpa (million tons per annum) Mothae mine, a "high-quality kimberlite resource" located in Lesotho. Lucapa has been developing a new mine at Mothae throughout 2018 to complement production from the high-value Lulo mine in Angola. During Q4 2018, Lucapa completed construction of Mothae's new treatment plant, which incorporates two XRT diamond recovery circuits, and commenced the commissioning phase.
Diamond production in Angola remained flat in 2018 at 9.43 million carats, but revenue from diamond sales increased by 9% to $1.2 billion from $1.1 billion due to a 27% rise in the average price per carat, the chairman of the state mining company Endiama, Ganga Júnior, announced this week. Diamond production fell slightly from 9.44 to 9.43 million carats, but the average price per carat of the 8.26 million carats sold increased to $149 per carat from $117 per carat.
Stornoway Diamonds got its production levels back on track in Q4 2018 after "challenging" year of ramping up their underground operations at the Renard mine in Canada, giving them the confidence to raise their production guidance for 2019. Production, sales and revenue all declined significantly from the miner's 2017 levels, but they recorded a 24% increase in the average price per carat earned despite a market downturn in the second half of 2018.
Stellar Diamonds and parent company Newfield Resources are on the verge of commencing development of their Tongo Diamond Project in Sierra Leone. When completed, it will be the second largest diamond operation in the country. The Diamond Loupe spoke with CEO of Stellar Diamonds and Executive Director at Newfield Resources Karl Smithson, first in Antwerp and again when he was on site in Tongo (“in the middle of the bush”) about the project, how it is progressing and what to expect going forward.
State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) plans to produce 4.1 million carats of the commodity this year, representing a 46% increase from the 2.8 million carats produced last year.
Mountain Province Diamonds says that it expects the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada, a JV with De Beers (51% owner), to surpass its 2018 production guidance of 6.6 million carats. Output is then expected rise to a range of 6.6 million to 6.9 million carats in each of 2019 and 2020, followed by 6.8 million to 7.1 million carats in 2021. The miner says the production guidance over the three-year period 2019 to 2021 is evidence of a sustainable and smooth mining rate as the mine performance maintains a steady state.
Canadian miner Mountain Province's production and sales of rough diamonds from the Gahcho Kué mine underwhelmed in the third quarter of 2018, as production was on the downside of flat during the quarter, while sales increased against a low comparison point in 2017 and the cost of production rose. Sales increased by 15% to US$57 million (C$75 million) at an average price of US$73 per carat, but net income dropped by 37% to US$13 million (C$17.5m) from US$21million (C$16m).
Lucara Diamond Corp.'s third quarter carat production from its Karowe mine in Botswana "exceeded expectations" as a result of increased efficiency in diamond recovery in the smaller sizes during 2018.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), according to a column written by President Mnangagwa in The Sunday Mail, that the country's diamond output was expected to shatter previous records. Zimbabwe aims to produce (at a stretch) three million carats this year, driven by a US$100 million investment in operations over the last two years. The ZCDC unearthed 2.4 million carats between January and October 2018, a significant increase over the 1.8 million carats achieved last year. ZCDC chief executive officer Dr.
Gem Diamonds said its third quarter (ended 30 September) production from its Letšeng mine in Lesotho rose 27% compared to Q2 2018, and the miner has raised its production and sales guidance for the year. Gem Diamonds now anticipates is full-year output to reach 120 to 124 million carats, up from the 114 to 118 million carats announced last March. The announcement follows improved mining efficiencies and strong production during the period. The miner also projects to sell 118,000 to 122,000 carats, up from 112,000 to 116,000 carats announced previously.
Firestone Diamonds posted solid production amid middling sales results in Q1 2019 (ended 30 September 2018), but its majority-owned Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho got off a strong start to the second quarter after selling its third most valuable stone to date. The start of Q2 was highlighted by the second sale of the 2019 financial year, where the diamond miner sold a total of 102,835 carats for US$8.2 million on October 26, including a 68 carat white diamond, the third most valuable stone sold to date for just under US$10 million, and a 20 carat yellow diamond.
De Beers’ rough diamond production declined by 5% to 8.7 million carats in the third quarter due to planned reductions in mining volumes in Botswana and South Africa, the miner announced today. In Botswana, production at the Jwaneng mine declined by 6% to 5.7 million carats due to the planned processing of lower grade material. Production at the Orapa mine remained in line with Q3 2017 at 2.6 million carats.
Petra Diamonds, with mining operations in South Africa and Tanzania, has released a promising and much-needed set of results from Q1 2019 (July 1 to September 30), reporting a 21% increase in diamond production and a 22% rise in revenue in the last three months.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA increased its production in Q3 2018 by 23% compared to Q2, and its output was up 2% year-over-year, somewhat mitigating the company's 11% decline in production over the first nine months of 2018, which now stands at 26.4 m carats. Meanwhile, ALROSA's Q3 rough diamond sales fell by 26% compared to the prior quarter and are down by 9% for the first nine months of 2018, while average realised prices for gem-quality diamonds during the quarter (including product mix change effect) gained 22% over the last quarter and are up 18% y-o-y.
Lucapa Diamond Company completed the first sale of alluvial diamonds for H2 2018 from the Lulo Diamond Project in Angola: the parcel of 2,527 carats achieved gross sale proceeds of US$2.0 million (A$2.7 million), representing an average price per carat of US$800 (A$1,079), as several large stones were excluded from the sale.
Petra Diamonds posted a 21% rise in revenue to $576.4 million for the twelve months to June 30 from $477 million a year earlier, citing higher diamond prices (+2% on like-for-like basis) and production (+15%); but the miner worried investors by saying it expects to produce 4.6 million to 4.8 million carats in 2019, well below the 5.0-5.3 million carats it forecast in July last year.
Firestone Diamonds, a new diamond producer with operations focused in Lesotho (Liqhobong Diamond Mine, owned 75% by Firestone and 25% by the Government of Lesotho), reports it achieved "exceptional operational performance result[ing] in several new production-related records during the final quarter." Specifically, its Q4 recoveries were 36.8% higher than Q3 at 263,512 carats, resulting in a full year total of 835,832 carats, within guidance of between 800,000 and 850,000 carats.
Zimbabwe's state-owned diamond mining company, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), reported a massive 44 percent increase in rough diamond production during the first half of 2018, according to The Sunday Mail, with investment in modern mining and processing equipment and the resumption of conglomerate mining* identified as the main drivers.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA ramped up the volume of processed ore from their alluvial diamond operations, resulting in a 15% increase in overall production compared to the prior quarter while remaining 18% off the pace of production volume during the same quarter a year ago. The miner produced 8.5 m carats during the last three months compared to 7.4 million carats in Q1.
De Beers rough diamond production increased three percent to 9.0 million carats during the second quarter of 2018, "reflecting production increases to meet stronger demand as well as the contribution from the ramp-up at Gahcho Kué", the company today announced.
Global rough diamond production in 2017 grew to levels not seen since 2008, and achieved its highest overall value since the Kimberley Process started gathering statistics in 2004 - and most likely the highest value ever for a single year of production. The volume of diamond output in 2017 surged by 19% to 150.9 million carats (126.4m cts in 2016), with the average price increasing 8% to $105 per carat.
Russian diamond miner ALROSA has decided to suspend the construction of deep mine levels at its International underground mine due to health and safety concerns, which will impact the mine's output plan, though the miner's 2018 production plan remains unchanged.
Canadaian diamond miner Stornoway suffered higher losses during the first quarter of 2018 as it makes the transition from open pit to underground mining, which has had a negative impact on carat production as they have moved to the processing of lower grade ore.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA saw its profit soar to $533 million (RUB 33.2B) in Q1 2018, eclipsing their profit from Q1 2017 by 40% and doubling that from the final quarter of 2017. Noting improved market conditions, the company's rough diamond sales volume grew by 43% to 13.4 million carats despite a 26% decline in production compared to Q4 2017 (-17% compared to Q1 2017) as 48% of their sales volume, about 6 million carats, came from existing stocks.
South African diamond producer Petra Diamonds reported a major revenue increase in its third quarter (Jan 1 - March 31 2018) driven by record production in the first three months of 2018. The miner said revenue for the quarter climbed 44% to $172 million from 1,373,771 carats sold, compared to $119 million from 1,069,886 carats sold a year earlier.
The world's two largest diamond miners reported diverging results in the first quarter of 2018, as De Beers production climbed 15% compared to the first quarter of 2017, totaling 8.5 million carats, while ALROSA's first quarter production fell by 17% year-over-year to 7.4 million carats. Noteworthy is that the production guidance for the year 2018 remained unchanged for both miners, as ALROSA confirmed its production plan for FY 2018 at 36.6 million carats, while De Beers' full year production guidance also remains unchanged at 34 to 36 million carats, subject to trading conditions.
Russia's ALROSA, the world's largest diamond producer, saw its profits tumble by 41% in FY 2017 owing to a variety of factors, including: a 13% ruble appreciation against the US dollar, a 9% decrease in the average price of gem-quality diamonds sold and fallout from the tragic Mir mine flood. The financial downturn took place against the background of increases in the volume of diamonds sold as well as production.
Coming off of 2017, a year in which global diamond supply by volume increased by 11.7% year-over-year, supply is forecast to contract by 3.4% to 147M carats in 2018, writes independent industry analyst Paul Zimnisky. Of the world's top three diamond miners by volume, only De Beers is expected to increase production this year, while diamond output at Russia's ALROSA and diversified-major Rio Tinto is estimated to decline, more than offsetting De Beers' increase. Combined, the three companies represent approximately 70% of global diamond supply by volume.
The De Beers Group today announced its annual results for 2017, showing high volumes of production and sales offset by a lower value mix of goods, leading to a 4% reduction in total revenue to $5.8 billion from $6.1 billion 2016.
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).