Canadian miner Lucara Diamond has reported the best quarter in the history the Karowe mine in Botswana in terms of ore processing performance, lowering the cost of its operations and achieving the best results from its regular diamond sales in over a year. This was before the April recovery of the largest diamond to be mined at Karowe to date, an unbroken 1,758 carat near-gem-quality stone, which became the largest diamond recovered in Botswana and one of the largest diamonds in recorded history, superseding the spot held by the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona recovered from Karowe in 2015.
While the volume of carats Gem Diamonds sold in Q1 2019 (Jan. 1 - March 31) from its Letšeng mine in Lesotho fell by 18% from the previous quarter to 27,335 carats, those sales packed a punch, generating $51.9 million in value, a 24% increase from Q4 2018. Still, the miner could not keep pace with its torrid start to 2018.
A mechanical breakdown and the mining of a lower grade area of the Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho led to a signficant production decline for Firestone Diamonds during the quarter ended 31 March 2019 (Q3 of tFY 2019), but revenue rose on a rebound in the average price per carat and the sale of high value stones.
Only weeks after recovering a 425-carat diamond, Petra Diamond's famed Cullinan mine has produced another big stone, this time a 209.9 carat D-Colour Type II diamond. The big diamond is the third +100ct Type II D color gem-quality diamond Petra has recovered since March 2019 and the fourth in this financial year. The find will take some of the sting out of the 7% production decline in the third fiscal quarter due to a slowdown at its Finsch mine in South Africa.
Alrosa's rough diamond production in Q1 2019 declined significantly from the same period in 2018, as did its sales, impacted by a sharp decline in prices and a larger share of small-size diamonds in the sales mix and lower prices mostly for medium-size diamonds.
Rio Tinto's diamond production in Q1 2019 declined by a total of 18% on an annual basis from its two mining operations in Australia and Canada due to lower recovered grade. The lower grade particularly affected diamond output at its 100% owned Argyle mine in Australia, where production fell by 22% year-over-year and 13% from the final quarter of 2018 to just under 2.8 million carats.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has reported an "excpetional performance" from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho in its first full quarter of production, while output from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola fell as the miner focused predominantly on lower grade mining areas. The miner held two milestone tenders during Q1 2019: its first ever sale of Lulo diamonds via international tender under the new diamond marketing reforms enacted by the Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, and its first commercial run of mine tender from Mothae via Bonas tender house in Antwerp.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa saw its March rough diamond sales gain 8% over its February results, as the market is gradually stabilizing, although it is still lagging far behind its rough sales a year ago. Alrosa sold $369.2 million in rough goods compared with $340.6 million last month and $278.2 million in January, saying demand for smaller-sized stones picked up during the quarter.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamond Co. rebounded from a difficult final quarter of 2018 to post significant increases in total carats sold, leading to a big rise in gross proceeds. Stornoway in Q1 2019 sold 429,506 total carats at two tender sales a Bonas tender house in Antwerp, earning about US$35 million (C$47 million) at an average price of US$83 per carat (C$110 per carat).
Firestone Diamonds increased its first half (ended 31 December 2018) revenue to $27.4 million from three sales at First Element tender house in Antwerp despite soft prices, the miner announced late last week. Firestone managed to top the $26.0 million from four sales in H1 last year through an increase in the volume of carats sold, while the average value per carat fell 4% to $71 from $74 per carat in H1 2018, impacted by prices for smaller, lower value diamonds. The miner also managed to decrease it loss for the period to $6.6 million from $7.8 million in H1 2018.
The Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine, a joint venture between Mountain Province (49%) and De Beers Canada (51%), exceeded expectations in its first full year of commercial production, setting records for carat recoveries and sales despite a challenging end of year 2018. Mountain Province reports that the Gahcho Kué Mine exceeded its upper end of FY2018 guidance of tonnes treated, processing 3,194,000 tonnes (2017: 2,775,000 tonnes) and recovered 17% more carats than last year, settting a new high for the mine of 6,937,000 carats (2017: 5,934,000 carats) with a 4% increase in the average grade.
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.
BlueRock Diamonds, an AIM-listed junior miner which owns and operates the Kareevlei Diamond Mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa, has recovered its largest diamond to date: a 16.28 carat gem-quality stone. It is 4.58 carats larger than the next largest diamond the miner has recovered. On Monday, the company announced it has raised an aggregate of £575,000 ($740,000) through a placement.
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.
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.
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.
De Beers' parent company Anglo American has announced a slight rise in its guidance for diamond output this year to 35-36 million carats (previously 34-36 million carats), marking a rise from the 33.5 million carats recovered in 2017. They estimate a reduction in 2019 volumes down to 31-33 million carats due to declining open pit production at the Venetia mine in South Africa as it transitions underground, and the Victor mine in Canada reaching its end-of-mine-life.
BlueRock Diamonds plc, the AIM listed diamond mining company which owns and operates the Kareevlei Diamond Mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa, has announced that the grade resulting from mining the first level of its latest kimberlite pipe "exceeds expectations". BlueRock is currently mining two of the five pipes at Kareevlei, called the KV1 and KV2. It has now processed the first Level 1 ore (10m to 20m below surface) from KV1, totalling 20,500 tonnes, resulting in grades of between 3.90 carats per hundred tonnes (‘cpht’) and 5.11 cpht at an average grade of 4.51 cpht.
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.
Rio Tinto's carat production in Q3 2018 at the Argyle as well as Diavik mines fell on a year-over-year basis, though production for the year thus far has kept pace with the first nine months of 2017. Production during the three months ending September 30 fell by over 17% to 4.9 million carats from 5.9 million carats, driven by a 19% decline at its 100-percent owned Argyle mine in Australia. Total output from the two mines is down by 2% to 14.1 million carats for the year to date.
Firestone Diamonds has just completed its first full year of production at the Liqhobong Diamond Mine (75% Firestone, 25% Government of Lesotho), ending an "eventful" year with mixed results. The company describes their first full year of production as "characterised by exceptional operational performance", as Firestone achieved their carat recovery guidance and exceeded their tonnage treated while operating at significantly lower cost than expected, and maintained an unblemished safety record.
Australian-based Lucapa Diamond Company, whose flagship operation is the Lulo diamond project in Angola, reports the recovery 1,100 diamonds from a 178 kg drill sample at the Brooking diamond project in Western Australia’s West Kimberley lamproite province. The miner's "exceptional results" from the Little Spring Creek discovery included 18 macro-diamonds and 1,082 micro-diamonds, recovered from drill hole LSC/DH002. “The latest micro-diamond results from Little Spring Creek are some of the best I have seen in the diamond space," said Lucapa Managing Director Stephen Wetherall.
Canada’s Mountain Province Diamonds second quarter output at the Gahcho Kué mine jumped by 20 percent to 1.9 million carats compared with 1.6 million carats a year earlier as plant optimization led to better-than-anticipated performance, and recovered grade continues to outperform expectations. The plant treated 899,000 tons during the quarter, 17% ahead of the same quarter last year despite a decline in ore tons mined, and achieved a higher average grade.
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.
A veritable bonanza of large diamond recoveries, including the 910-carat Lesotho Legend, a high-quality diamond unearthed on 15 January - the second largest gem quality diamond recovered in the past century - sent Gem Diamonds' revenues soaring to the tune of an 174% increase in Q1 2018.
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.
Firestone Diamonds, which mines the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho (75% Firestone, 25% government of Lesotho) reports an increase in production during the third fiscal quarter ended 31 March 2018, as the higher grade led to a 6.6% rise in diamond recoveries despite challenging conditions due to above average rainfall during the wet season.
Canada's Stornoway Diamond Corp. realized a higher average price per carat from an improved size and quality mix in the first quarter of 2018, getting the year off to a strong start despite lower than expected carat production. According to the miner's First Quarter 2018 Production and Sales Results, Stornoway sold 399,135 carats at three tender sales in Antwerp for gross proceeds of US$45 million (C$56.4 million) at an average price of US$112 per carat (C$141 per carat).
Canadian miner Mountain Province Diamonds said that 2018 has seen a strong start in rough diamond markets. "The first two sales of the year substantially exceeded expectations, and prices have firmed across all product categories since the second half of 2017," said Interim President and CEO David Whittle. The company reported a net income of CAD$17.2 million for the full year which ended December 31, 2017.
Quebec-based Stornoway Diamonds full-year results reflect “a lower diamond price environment than was originally forecast by the Corporation". The company reported a net loss of CAD $114.6 million (US$ 89.1 M) from net income of CAD $19.6 million (US$ 15.2 M) in 2016 in its financial year ended December 31, 2017. The results reflect "a lower diamond price environment than was originally forecast by the Corporation". Before the impairment net income was $11.1 million for the fourth quarter and $15.0 million for the year.
Gem Diamonds returned to profit in 2017 as it recovered seven diamonds over 100 carats, but the miner's prospects are looking even better for the year ahead, as today's announcement of the recovery of a 169 carat stone is the seventh diamond of over 100 carats recovered already in 2018. Gem returned to profitability for the year ending 31 December, recording a profit before tax of $30.3m, up from a loss the previous year of $124.1m; profit after tax was $17.2m (-$144.1m) and attributable profit was $5.5m (-$158.8), after exceptional items.
North Arrow Minerals - a Canadian based exploration company focused on the identification and evaluation of diamond exploration opportunities in Canada - has recovered a total of 1,991 diamonds greater than +1 DTC (-1 mm), weighing 64.25 carats, from 209.84 dry tons of kimberlite. This represents an overall sample grade of 30.6 cpht (carats per hundred tons). The three largest recovered diamonds are 5.25, 2.09 and 1.06 carats.
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).
The Sociedade Mineira de Catoca (Catoca) mining company in Angola intends to mine 7 million carats of diamonds next year, said Russian CEO Sergei Amelin. In November this year, the company announced it expected to mine 8 million carats of diamonds by the end of the year (2017), so their forecast for coming year represents a 6 percent step back comparted to 2017. The information was released on Tuesday in Saurimo City, eastern Lunda Sul Province, by the company’s general director, Sergei Amelin, who did not add the expected profit for this year.
The government of Zimbabwe reports it has doubled its diamond production to 1.8 million carats in 2017, from 961,000 carats in 2016, the drop in production exacerbated by Zimbabwe's merging of diamond mining companies previously operating in Chiadzwa diamond fields into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). The rise in diamond production is expected to translate into increased economic development. ZCDC CEO, Dr Moris Mpofu, said in an effort to achieve an effective system of diamond value management, the company had stopped selling diamonds in February last year.
BlueRock Diamonds plc, which owns and operates the Kareevlei Diamond Mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa, achieved record monthly sales in October 2017 of US$226,400 (ZAR 3.25 million), also achieving a record monthly number of carats sold at auction of 609.84. The October parcel was sold at an average of US$371.25 per carat, compared with the average price realised for the first 9 months of 2017 of US$336.65 per carat. The diamonds produced and included in October’s sales tender resulted in a grade of 2.64 cpht.