Just last week, Zimbabwe Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa announced that diamond mining licences for companies operating in the Marange alluvial area have expired, and has now said that they risk losing their licences altogether, mainly because they failed to do exploration work. They also defaulted on their fees, failed to make significant investments in their operations and misrepresented their investments in machinery, which they actually leased.
In a statement to investors, Lucapa Diamond Co. - based in Perth, Western Australia, and listed on the ASX - announced the recovery of 14 more “special” diamonds, including a 74.5 carat stone, from ongoing mining and treatment at Block 8 on the Lulo diamond project in Angola. All diamonds were greater than 10.8 carats, while the 74.5 carat diamond was confirmed as Type IIa D-colour stone and the fourth biggest stone recovered to date at Lulo.
Despite its rough diamond sales falling 14% to $9.5mil, alluvial mining company Rockwell Diamonds has reported a Q2 net profit of $1.2 million on the back of a 32% increase in total revenue (yoy), which was "driven mainly through the unlocking of value in the beneficiation pipeline as well as the impact of eliminating operating losses at Niewejaarskraal following its suspension in April 2015." Beneficiation revenue increased 277% to more than 6.7 million.
Spanish authorities have arrested Michel Desaedeleer, who has US and Belgian citizenship, on charges of enslavement and diamond pillaging during Sierra Leone’s civil war, according to Swiss-based victims’ association Civitas Maxima. Desaedeleer is suspected of forcing enslaved civilians to mine for diamonds in Sierra Leone’s eastern district of Kono between 1999 and 2001. A Belgian investigation led to a European arrest warrant being issued against Desaedeleer, who normally lives in America, earlier this year.
Photographer Lynsey Addario for Time Magazine took an inside look at the Democratic Republic of Congo's diamond mines. Conditions are harsh and poverty is rampant. The article notes that the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), along with diamond jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth, has set up a pilot program for young students at risk of sacrificing their education to work in the mines. Right now there are only two Brilliant Mobile Schools, as they are called, in Tshikapa, and demand is high. DDI hopes to build more, if they can raise more funds.
Stellar Diamonds said a preliminary economic assessment shows the Tongo kimberlite project in Sierra Leone can produce almost 1 million carats over the next 18 years, according to a company announcement. "The objective was to define updated project economics for both surface and underground mining of the diamond resource in support of the mining license application," according to the assessment by Paradigm Project Management.
Production of diamonds in Zimbabwe this year is expected to fall to 3.5 million carats from 5.9 million carats mined last year because of a significant decline in alluvial diamond reserves in the Marange gem fields in Manicaland Province in eastern Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe extracts alluvial diamonds from the vast Marange diamond fields but these are fast depleting, prompting calls for the exploration of new deposits. The size of the Marange fields is estimated at between 60,000 and 70,000 hectares.
Sierra Leone's alluvial diamond deposits in traditionally mined areas are said to have depleted following decades of intensive digging. Diamond Intelligence Briefs reports, citing Sierra Express Media, that the mining industry had “declined sharply", with the closure of many diamond offices in Bo, Kenema and other diamond districts in the country. Apart from the exhaustion of the country’s “most diamondiferous plots”, the report claimed that no major nationwide diamond prospecting exercise had been done since independence in 1961. It noted that there had been no large diamonds discovered in
The Lucapa Diamond Company has announced that the concession area the Angolan government awarded to mining company Sociedade Mineira do Lulo to mine alluvial diamonds has been “significantly extended” to 1,500 km² representing 50% of the entire Lulo Concession. The previous area, valid for a period of 35 years, was 218 km². "Significantly", the company says, the expanded mining license area extends well beyond the Cacuilo River to include the Lulo River and its numerous large tributaries that drain the main Lulo kimberlite field.
Level Diamonds of Antwerp has announced a joint venture with Minico (DRC) for reopening and exploiting their mine in Western Kasai. The mine has reopened for production after almost a decade of standing idle. Following a year and a half of investments and reorganisation (administrative, operational) and a new management team, the mine is back to production. Having vast reserves in the hundreds of thousands of carats, the joint venture plans for the mine to deliver 7,000-10,000ct p/m within 6 to 12 months.
Chinese diamond miner Anjin Investments has been ordered by Zimbabwe’s labour court to reinstate at least 1,100 employees it fired three years ago. Anjin, one of the seven firms licenced to mine the vast government-controlled Marange diamond field, began operations in 2009. The mine, which over three years ago claimed to be the largest producer of diamonds in the world, has been facing viability problems and is among diamond firms that have since 2013, reported diminishing alluvial diamond deposits in Marange.
Rapaport conducted an interview with Stephen Wetherall, CEO of Lucapa Diamond Company, about the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola that it operates and partly owns (40%). “Our goal is to reach alluvial production of 50,000 carats per year, which should enable us to generate sufficient cash to fund part of our kimberlite exploration program."
The Zimbabwe Government has currently lost more than $21 million in potential statutory remittances following its recent suspension of alluvial diamond extraction by mining firm DTZ-OZGEO due to environmental concerns, said Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko. The government is reviewing its decision in the interest of generating more revenue. The decision has also affected over 400 workers. The company was accused of destroying the ecosystem and polluting the Mutare River in Penhalonga during previous operations.
Diamcor has achieved $4.72 million in revenue from the sale of 25,627.59 carats at tenders since June 2013. The diamonds were sourced from the Krone-Endora alluvial project in South Africa and sold for an average price of $185.54 per carat. The company also recovered and sold a 91.72-carat diamond for $817,920 and a 43.90-carat diamond for $317,924.
In a press release, Lucapa Diamond Company announced that it has sold a third parcel of diamonds from its Angola-based Lulo diamond concession for gross proceeds of A$790,000. The latest sale brings to A$6.8 million in gross proceeds from the sale of Lulo diamonds to date. The May 2015 sale should include the 63.05ct Type IIa diamond recovered this month.
Mwana Africa Plc said it will cost almost $100 million to realize plans to raise production tenfold at its venture with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned diamond miner. The Societe Miniere de Bakwanga, or Miba, has the potential to increase annual diamond output to as many as 8 million carats from 500,000 carats now, said Mwana CEO Kalaa Mpinga. The plan involves shifting from alluvial mining to targeting kimberlite diamonds.
The government of Angola has approved rights for artisanal diamond miningto two private consortiums in a total area of nearly 500 square kilometres in the northern interior of the country. These two artisanal diamond concessions allow the use of semi-industrial equipment. In Angola last year, 8.75 million carats of industrial production went to export, valued at US$ 1.308 billion.
Operations at the Botswana project will commence next month and follow the 35-year alluvial mining license announced earlier this month.
Sales of conflict diamonds is on the rise in the CAR, with $24 million of diamonds smuggled out of the country since its suspension from the Kimberley Process last year.
David Prager, De Beers' head of corporate affairs, and Kent Wong Siu Kee, managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, will be joining the board of the Diamond Empowerment Fund.
The conference, hosted by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development of Zimbabwe and focusing on 'Completing Zimbabwe’s Diamond Potential for the Future', has generated significant interest. Organizers said that no previous African diamond conferences have “addressed the significant “challenges” which Africa faces.
Mumbai’s Parikh Bros. and Golden Saint Resources Ltd. Signed a memorandum of understanding, with the former to cut and polish rough diamonds from Golden’s alluvial mining in Sierra Leone.
As small-scale artisanal mining is difficult to track, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s legislation is harming small-scale miners. It has also inadvertently convinced international buyers to pull out of the region and source their minerals elsewhere.
The CEOs of 11 mining firms operating in West Africa are continuing operations where possible, with the health and safety of employees being top priority, but are calling for more aid from the international community.
Diamond executives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are expected to tour Zimbabwe this week to explore possible cooperation.