A lovely springtime sun is warming up the Antwerp diamond square mile, boosting temperatures from snowy below zero barely a week ago to a pleasant 15°Celcius. The weather is echoing the sentiment on the market and at Petra Diamonds, as both have emerged from tough times probably stronger than before.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, Petra Diamonds was one of the first to shift gears as the world was paralyzed. The Johannesburg sales were put on hold and the miner started focusing its sales on Antwerp, where operations continued despite global lockdowns.
Star Diamond Corporation recently announced that Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. (RTEC) has commenced the processing of bulk samples from RTEC's trench cutter program at the Orion South Diamond Project in Saskatchewan, Canada. These bulk samples, estimated by RTEC to be approximately 8,271 wet tonnes, were collected in 2019 and are stored on-site in approximately 6,848 cubic metre bulk bags.
De Beers has announced that their first quarter 2020 rough diamond production was in line with Q1 2019 and Q4 2020 output, ending at 7.8 million carats. The miner noted a limited impact from the COVID-19 measures introduced at the end of the quarter in producer countries. Nonetheless, De Beers has revised its production guidance downward by over 20% to 25-27 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats), citing the impact of COVID-19 on mining operations, wholesale trading activity and consumer traffic in key consumer markets.
Mountain Province Diamonds has announced improved production and sales results for the first quarter of 2020, though their sales are currently on hold. In Q1 2020, Mountain Province sold 659,318 carats at an average value of $99 per carat (US$75 per carat) for total proceeds of $65.4 million (US$49.2 million) in comparison to 643,739 carats sold at an average value of $94 per carat (US$71 per carat) for total proceeds of $60.7 million (US$45.8 million) in Q1 2019.
Gem Diamonds yesterday announced that its profit for 2019 took a plunge as weaker diamond prices and fewer large diamond recoveries put pressure on a miner whose product was expected to shelter it somewhat from a challenging market. Gem's profit for the year from continuing operations fell 71% to $15.0 million from $52.4 million in 2018, while its attributable profit lost 77%, falling to $7.1 million from $31.7 million a year ago. The stock market was not kind to Gem's share price, which this week sunk to an all-time low.
Petra Diamonds concluded H1 FY 2020 (the six months to 31 December 2019) with a $10 million net loss as ongoing market weakness and an "adverse product mix" (lower quality diamonds) which weighed on their profit from mining activities. The London-based miner reported a net loss of $10 million for the period, which represents a sizeable improvement on its $57.9 million loss in the first half of 2019.
London-based BlueRock Diamonds, which operates and owns 74% of the Kareevlei mine based in Kimberley, South Africa, achieved profitability for the first time in the second half of 2019 after more than doubling its diamond output and revenue. The junior miner made good on its September prediction that it would achieve profitability in H2 2019 through enhanced production.
Firestone Diamonds last week reported a decline in revenue during for the quarter ended 30 September 2019 (Q1 of their 2020 FY) due mainly to lower sales prices for diamonds from its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho. The miner has had to deal with a power supply cut to the mine since 1 October, which forced Firesetone to temporarily shut down the mine's treatment plant until power is restored.
Despite a comparatively modest decline in revenue in fiscal year 2019 (ended 30 June 2019), Petra Diamonds saw its profits decline by 22% this past year, falling short of industry estimates and sparking a downturn in the company's shares, which hit their lowest level ever. The stock is down about 80% this year as the miner is focusing on reducing its sizeable debt incurred by investments in its flagship Cullinan mine in South Africa. Revenue for the year fell 6% to $463.6 million from $495.3 million, with their average diamond prices achieved falling approximately 5%, which is slightly bett
London-based BlueRock Diamonds, which operates and owns 74% of the Kareevlei mine based in Kimberley, South Africa, increased its production and revenue during H1 2019 as compared to a year ago, reducing its H1 losses to GBP 381,027 ($458,064) from GBP 1.3 million ($1.6 million) a year ago. BlueRock points to April 2019 as the turning point, when the company installed a new operational management team and changed its mining plan.
Mountain Province Diamonds reported a decline in carats recovered and sales in Q2 2019, but the miner's profit rose 61% to C$10.3 million (US$7.8 million) via foreign exchange gains resulting from the relative strengthening of the Canadian dollar versus US dollar. Mountain Province achieved production targets for the quarter and was ahead of plan at the end of the first half of the year despite a “very difficult rough diamond market”.
Leading global consolidated miner Rio Tinto today (August 1) announced it would be returning $3.5 billion to its shareholders, including an interim dividend of $2.5 billion and a special dividend of $1.0 billion. The dividends decision followed a half-year performance where Rio earned $20.7 billion in consolidated sales revenue, a 9% increase over H1 2018, and ended with underlying EBITDA of $10.3 billion, a 19% increase over H1 2019.
Lucapa Diamond Company is expecting to start turning an operational profit this year after achieving exceptional prices for its rough diamonds at its H1 tenders in Antwerp. The miner says it has also delivered on key operational goals at its Lulo (Angola) and Mothae (Lesotho) diamond mines in the June 2019 Quarter as well as in the first half of 2019. In H1 2019, the company recovered 20,504 carats and banked $US29.4m (AUS$41.9m) from sales.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamonds delivered a strong performance in rough sales as well as production in Q2 2019, but ever-softening diamond prices in a market that continues to be challenging kept proceeds level with those achieved in Q1.
UK-based and AIM-listed junior miner BlueRock Diamonds on Monday announced it achieved record production at its flagship Kareevlei mine in South Africa during the second quarter of 2019. During the three-month period to June 30, the diamond miner produced a company record 3,516 carats, more than four-times greater than the 875 carats produced in the end of the second quarter in 2018.
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.