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$90+m in debts, unpaid cash calls to operate the mine.
In Luanda, the state-owned diamond company Sodiam has opened a retail store, in collaboration with KGK, the diamond company that also operates a polishing factory in the country. Earlier, Mines minister Diamantino Azevedo announced the government is going ahead with plans to develop a diamond hub in a free-trade zone, which is said to include a research and training facility as well as a diamond bourse.
AWDC’s figures for October indicate that increased trade, particularly rough imports and exports in the diamond hub, continue to narrow the gap, caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond industry, with 2019. Rough exports for October were up 82% in terms of carats, 76% in terms of value, compared to October 2019. Imports increased 78% in carats, 65% in US$.
Lucara Diamond and HB Antwerp announce the discovery of another massive rough diamond, coming in at 998ct, destined for Antwerp, where it will be analyzed, cut and polished by HB Antwerp, as part of the partnership between the miner and manufacturer, in which HB Antwerp receives all 10.8ct+ rough stones produced at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana, in return for a share in the profit of the resulting polished.
As restrictions to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic tighten in countries across the globe, Antwerp continues to be operational, a communication from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) which was sent to the local trade community states. Last Sunday, Belgium's Federal government, following other countries across the globe, announced new measures to flatten the curve, but business operations in Antwerp's famous diamond square mile can continue, including at the Diamond Office, where all diamond imports and exports pass through.
In a press release Alrosa, the Russian diamond miner, announced the results of its latest specials tender, held in Antwerp in October. At the tender, where 28 companies participated in bidding, the miner sold 112 rough diamonds, 10.8ct plus or specials, for a total volume of 1,733ct at a total price of US$6.9m. Alrosa choose Antwerp for its sales as the company "tries to meet the needs of customers by offering rough diamonds in the countries where they operate", Evgeny Agureev, Deputy CEO of Alrosa commented.
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.
De Beers reports selling US$467m worth or rough diamonds at its latest sales cycle, 57% more than the same sales period in 2019, 40% higher than the previous sale, further confirming rough demand has picked up significantly in view of the holiday season. The miner, who discounted prices by 5 to 10% according to industry insiders, went through several months of near zero sales, at the peak of the pandemic's first wave, and implemented maximum flexiblity to its long-term customers. In the latest cycle, it also extended the usual one-week sales momentum to more than 3 weeks.
Hennig Tenders will be holding a 2nd tender of Angolan RoM goods in Antwerp from 12-21 October, following a 1st succesful tender of +5ct Angolan RoM rough which concluded last week. This follow-up tender of a large volume of rough stones of smaller sizes (4 carats and below) will consist of a combination of bespoke cuts in both the high value 2.5-4 carat assortments and the RoM parcels in all other sizes as well as some fancy colour stones.
In its latest tender in Antwerp, GRIB Diamonds sold over 400,000ct of rough diamonds from its mine in the Russian Federation with proceeds in excess of US$ 25 million as well as US$ 2 million of Angolan goods. According to GRIB Diamonds, prices were slightly lower, on average 5%, as the market recalibrates after the large increase in demand seen in the September GRIB spot sale.
Australia based Lucapa Diamonds and Endiama have sold 3,862 carats of diamonds from the Lulo operation in Angola for a total amount of US$ 5.6 million or an average US$1,450 per carat at its latest sale. Earlier this month, the company reported on record-breaking recovery of high value rough diamonds vrom the MB06 flood plain, and the latest sale further strenghtens Lucapa's outlook for H2 2020.
Mountain Province, owning a 49% interest in the Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories, resumed Antwerp sales this week for the first time since the pandemic broke out, a positive signal that boosted the miner's stock, up 9% on Monday. “The results of the first small sale, post the covid-19 pandemic are an encouraging start considering that the market has been at a standstill for nearly six months. The results of the sale were a positive sign as the markets for rough and polished diamonds start to return.”, CEO Stuart Brown commented.
Petra Diamonds today announced that it has recovered five extremely rare blue rough diamonds at its Cullinan mine, of 25.75 ct, 21.25 ct, 17.57 ct, 11.42 ct and 9.61 ct respectively. The last discovery of a blue rough stone dates back exactly one year ago, and blue diamonds are considered as one of the most rare in fancy colored stones, making it all the more extraordinary that five diamonds are recovered in one week's production.
Alrosa announces it sold 133 special (10.8ct+) rough diamonds, with a total weight of 2,173 ct for a value of US$ 7.4 million during its most recent auctions held in Belgium and Israel, to a total of 20 companies. The auctions are the single channel currently for Alrosa's specials. According to Deputy CEO, Evgeny Agureev, the total revenue significantly exceeded expectations, demonstrating demand for high quality rough is high.
Grib Diamonds sold 100% of its wholly owned Russian production in Antwerp yesterday, Monday 7th September. 390K carats of Russian goods were on offer which sold for more than $25M. Over 300 companies were invited to participate in the viewing of which 159 were active in the auction. “Bidding was stronger than any Grib sale seen since December 2019 with nearly 5,000 bids made. Prices rose to levels not seen since the beginning of the 2020, with particular strength noted in the cheaper goods and smalls.”, the company said.
Tender company Hennig Tenders will be holding a dual tender with viewings both in Ramat Gan and Antwerp of a large volume of original run of mine Angolan goods of 5ct and up, both single stones and parcels. The tender will also include a signicant selection of fancy colour stones, with a 45ct exceptional pink rough as the standout stone at the tender.
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.
After major miners De Beers and Alrosa announced price cuts, Bloomberg reports that the combined sales of their recent long-term client sales amounted to US$500 million, in stark contrast with the near-zero sales of the past six months, as the pandemic broke out and both companies decided to maintain pricing but maximize flexibility to their clients to defer contract purchases.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, in the 2nd half of 2020, De Beers' sales could rebound to US$1.6 billion, a recovery they believe will be driven by the holiday season, traditionally a strong sales period. The miner, for 85% owned by Anglo American, clocked an EBITDA of only US$2 million in the first half of the year, as De Beers' sales of rough diamonds dropped to nearly zero due to the global pandemic.
In a communication to its clients, Petra Diamonds has announced it will be charging its India-based clients an additional 2.041% on purchases through its Online Bidding Platform as well as on purchases made through Petra's other branches (Petra Diamonds Ltd and Petra Diamonds Belgium).
First Element Diamonds Services recently held the Jagersfontein Developments and Rooipoort Developments tender which concluded on Friday the 7th of August at the Antwerp Tender Facility. According to the company, the tender was exceptionally well attended and delivered strong results. Both of the mines offered their full Run of Mine productions which consisted of everything from Special +10.8Ct stones down to Melee goods.
Alrosa, the Russian mining giant says it is close to finalizing a deal in which the Gokhran, the Russian State Repository will buy a significant volume, ranging between US$500 million and US$1 billion, worth of diamonds. “It’s a question of state-government support to our company,” Evgeny Augurev, Alrosa's Vice CEO commented, “And not only to our company, but to the whole industry.”
Despite the global pandemic and the challenges it poses on the diamond industry at large, Rio Tinto, owner of the Argyle mine in Australia and partial (60%) owner of the Diavik mine in Canada, has continued to produce and market its rough diamonds. By implementing health and safety measures at the mines, as well as support programs for local communities, Rio Tinto managed to keep the mines operational. Via its Antwerp office, the only diamond hub that remained open for business throughout the crisis, the miner also recently held a Rio Tinto Specials Tender.
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.
For the sixth sight of the year, De Beers will continue to offer their clients the possibility to view goods in Antwerp and also Dubai, starting on Monday. Alrosa announced earlier this week it will drop mandatory buyout minimum requirements for the July sale, also starting on Monday, and as of August, the volumes will be reduced to 50% leaving clients the option to purchase additional goods via auctions and tenders.
During its latest specials tenders, held in Alrosa's Antwerp and Israel local offices, Russian miner Alrosa sold 156 special size (10.8ct+) rough diamonds, combined weight of 2,416 carats for a total amount of $6.8 million, $4.1 million of which was achieved in Antwerp, $2.7 million in Israel.
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.
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.
Lucara Diamond Corp has announced a unique partnership with the Antwerp-based company HB in which HB will buy all of the diamonds in excess of 10.8ct produced at the Karowe mine in Botswana, since March, and for the remainder of the year. About 70% of the rough mined by Lucara consists of larger, high value stones, and none of those have been up for sale since the pandemic broke out. In this unique supply agreement, HB will pay a price based on the estimated polished outcome, based on scanning and planning results.
On July 10th Grib Diamonds sold over $16M of rough diamonds from its fully owned Grib Diamond Mine in Russia. The rough diamond market is going through continued tough times with re-imposed lockdowns in the main cutting centre, India. However, Grib was able to sell more than 92% of the goods on offer and approximately 300k carats. According to Grib Diamonds, prices were slightly softer than the June sale with a small single digit reversal on June.
Currently on tender in Antwerp, Bonas Group and Namakwa diamonds are showcasing two exceptional rough stones from the KAO mine in Lesotho; a 88.21ct white and 13.74ct pink, part of an offering of singles stones and more than 60,000ct of the mines regular production. The tender is ongoing in the Bonas Group offices in Antwerp, through to July 16.
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.
De Beers is currently holding its 5th cycle sight viewings in Antwerp, a new initiative allowing sightholders who wish to do so, to view the goods outside of the usual sights held in Gaborone, Botswana. The goods will continue to be sold from Botswana, but the country has closed its borders for foreigners, forcing De Beers to literally think outside of the box. As the city is home to a large number of De Beers Sightholders, Antwerp is the first location to have such viewings.
In a statement Gem Diamonds has announced it has sold all large diamonds during its latest Antwerp tender, organized in strict compliance with COVID-19 measures. The company realized an average $/ct price of $1707 in H1, up from an average $/ct of $1687 in H1 and $1506 in H2 2019 respectively. A 13 carat pink diamond achieved $40,110 per carat, and a 61 carat white Type II diamond achieved $31,400 per carat. 15 diamonds sold in H1 2020 for in excess of $1 million each and one diamond for over $5 million.
By just about any measure - with the exception of last month - Alrosa's diamond sales in May 2020 scraped rock bottom as the Russian miner enabled its long-term clients to postpone their purchases in an attempt to lower the pressure on the market. Alrosa expects buying activity to improve in the middle of the third quarter.
Grib Diamonds, the Antwerp-based marketing arm of Russian miner AGD Diamonds, on June 16 sold over $20 million of rough diamonds from its fully-owned Grib Diamond Mine in Russia. Despite the troubled times the rough diamond market is going through, Grib was able to sell more than 90% of the goods on offer and approximately 350k carats.
In a press release, Sodiam, the state-owned body that markets of Angolan rough diamonds, announced its 2019 figures, with a net profit of US$27million, less than in 2018, as new legislation introduced in 2019 allows miners to market a portion of their production directly instead of through Sodiam. In September of last year, Sodiam introduced its online platform for competitive sales, and according to the release has reduced its operating cost by 17% in 2019. Tax contributions amounted to US$26,6 million, an increase of 21%.
Mining Weekly reports that Mountain Province, owning a 49% stake in the NWT Gahcho Kue mine, has proposed a deal to Dunebridge Worldwide, an affiliate of shareholder Dermot Desmond, to sell its run-of-mine production, at current market prices at the moment of each sale. The first sale is scheduled for roughly US$22 million later this week. Mountain Province will be entitled to a certain portion of the potential added value - after fees and expenses - generated by Dunebridge when it sells the diamonds in the future.
At its first tender after lockdown measures were relaxed in Antwerp, tender house Koin International has launched an innovative approach to allow customers to virtually participate in rough tenders, through a concept called "Virtual Viewer". Using specialized equipment and technology, including high resolution livestreamed video, a Koin expert acts as the eyes and hands of the client in a realtime viewing experience. The sessions are also recorded, allowing buyers to review goods whenever suits them and make an informed bidding and purchasing decision from any location in the world.
Namibia's Minister of Mines & Energy, Tom Alweendo, has blocked the extension of controversial middleman Neil Haddock, of Dubai based Global Diamond Tenders, who was appointed in 2016 to sell Namdia's diamonds. For years, Haddock and his company have allegedly been selling Zimbabwean and Namibian roug far below market value to Dubai companies.
Alrosa reports its first E-sight, offering long-term clients the possibility to purchase on a stone-by-stone basis was a success, “demonstrating market demand for rough diamonds and a willingness to purchase via online channels.”, says Alrosa deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev.
In a second tender, currently going on, the miner is tendering 700 rough stones from 5 to 10ct batches, open for purchase to long-term clients, as well as Alrosa’s spot and auction customers.
According to Reuters, De Beers, together with the government of Botswana is looking into (temporarily) shifting its sight viewings from Gaborone, Botswana, to major trading hubs, closer to their clients, for example in Antwerp. Reuters cites De Beers Executive Vice President, Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley; “If we can move our product closer to them it would give us the flexibility to restart sales as soon as the markets reopen”.
Alrosa announced that it is currently offering its long-term customers over 800 rough diamonds in the 5 to 10ct range, the largest volume the company has ever put on its digital platform. Since the implementation of the system, Alrosa has made several improvements to the platform, and now allows its customers to bid on a stone by stone basis in a semi-automated bidding process.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a paradigm shift, not only in how we live our lives, stay in touch with friends and family or do our shopping, but also in the way we do business. In an industry that has long relied on face-to-face interactions, particularly in the rough trading business, the crisis is accelerating business processes at a rapid pace. The Diamond Loupe spoke with Johan Erikson, CEO of First Element, a tender house operating in Antwerp, on how their processes have changed in the past few months to adapt to “the new normal”.
Rapaport reports that the Russian precious metals and gemstones repository, the Gokhran, may buy up part of the Russian miner's diamond stockpile, for an amount that ranges anywhere between $500 million and $1.7 billion. Rough sales have dropped dramatically as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the miner offered its clients maximum flexibility in purchasing obligations. During past crises, notably in 2009, the state repository alleviated the company in a similar way, at that time buying $1 billion worth of diamonds.
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.
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".
Alrosa announced today it will temporarily put its Aikhal underground mine and Zarya open pit operation in care and maintenance starting May 15 in response to the decreased demand and sales of diamonds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aikhal underground mine is scheduled to reopen at the end of September, while the Zarya mine will remain closed to the end of the year, with regular reassessment of market conditions. Combined, the two operations produced 2.6m carats last year.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre continues its AWDC Webinar Series tomorrow, April 29 from 15:00-16:00 with a presentation on the "Rough Market: a Q&A with Paul Zimnisky."