IDEX Price Report for 1 May: Prices Show Signs of Stabilizing

A diamond held by dop is polished on rotating automatic cast iron lap

Prices showed signs of stabilizing during April, with an even mix of increases and decreases in many sizes, especially fancy cuts. Overall there were more clusters of price rises than we have seen of late.

It’s too early to positively identify a clear upward trend, but the “end of the lab grown boom” is arguably having an impact. Lab grown prices are now so low – in some case just 10 percent of natural – that many jewelers are opting not to stock them in inventory and are only buying them on consignment.

In addition the G7 sanctions, in place since 1 March, are now starting to bite, and to slowly push up prices.

They have effectively restored the De Beers monopoly, although its rough production is down by almost a quarter so far this year (as is Rio Tinto’s) and rough sales remain sluggish (down 18 per cent on last year). Meanwhile polished exports from India fell by 27 per cent during March to $1.2bn

Highlighted changes

Rounds

1.00-1.24 ct. D-F / VVS2-VS1 +4-5%, F-I / IF-VVS1 -1-7%

2.00-2.99 ct. D-G / VVS2-VS2 +2.5-5%, G-N / IF-VVS1 -2-5%

4.00-4.99 ct. E-I / VS1-2 +1-4%, K-M / VS2-SI1 -1-2%

Fancy Cuts

1.25-1.49 ct. D-I / VVS1-SI1 -1-6.5%

1.50-1.99 ct. D-E / VVS1-VS2 +1-5%, I-J / IF-VS2 -4.5-5.5%

2.00-2.99 ct. D-H / VVS2-VS2 +2.5-3%, H-N / IF-VVS1 -2-5%

Source: IDEX

Minespider and Star Diamond to launch G7 compliant Diamond Passport

Minespider, a leading traceability platform for tracking minerals and raw materials, and Star Diamond Corp., a Canadian corporation engaged in the exploration, acquisition, and development of mineral properties, have partnered to launch the Diamond Passport and comply with the new G7 rules.

G7 countries have put a direct ban on Russian diamonds and agreed to establish a verification and certification mechanism for rough diamonds to prove their origin, ensuring diamonds are not mined, processed, or produced in conflict zones.

Having over 6 years of traceability experience with companies like Google, Minsur, LuNa Smelter, and others, Minespider introduced its own Diamond Passport in March this year. The Diamond Passport contains all key information about the diamond, including its provenance data, the diamond’s unique DNA, such as size, shape, color, carat, clarity, cut, and specific inclusions (natural flaws or imperfections), certificates from gemological laboratories and other documentation about the diamond.

“Through our partnership with Star Diamond, we intend to significantly strengthen the company’s position in diamond mining at large-scale mining spots in Canada. The diamond industry requires a new reliable mechanism for the verification and certification of rough diamonds based on traceability, and we are proud to support this significant change with our robust technology and extensive experience in mineral traceability.” said Nathan Williams, CEO and Founder, Minespider.

Star Diamond Corporation is striving to ensure that diamond mining in Saskatchewan is conducted responsibly, with a focus on improving environmental performance and accompanied by strong social performance.

“Star Diamond is excited to partner with the team at Minespider as we prepare for the eventual production and retailing of our world-class conflict-free Saskatchewan diamonds. It is our aim to provide wholesalers/retailers and end purchasers with a complete provenance report on all of our gem-quality diamonds. This will ensure that end purchasers may rest assured that the diamond they purchase for their loved one is conflict-free and ethically produced in Canada.” added Ewan Mason, President and CEO, Star Diamond Corporation.

Source: globalminingreview

Most diamonds that have ever been or will be mined are already above ground.

Diamond Leader De Beers Will Be Sold If BHP Acquires Anglo American

BHP’s share-swap take over bid for arch-rival Anglo American to create a $185 billion mining giant will struggle to succeed, but if it does there is one arm of the target certain to be sold, the De Beers diamond business.

Despite its century-old reputation and claim to be the custodian of the diamond industry De Beers has become more trouble than it’s worth, under attack from two directions.
Demand for diamonds is being battered by global economic uncertainty while the problem of slowing sales is being supercharged by the increasing popularity of lab-grown gems which are indistinguishable from mined diamonds.

A third factor which could seal the fate of De Beers is that BHP quit the diamond industry a decade ago after struggling to mix mining, and its basic function of heavy-duty earthmoving, with the fine art of producing and marketing baubles for the rich and newlyweds.

It could get worse for the diamond mining business because prices for lab-grown gems are continuing to fall as a market split widens. High-value jewels remain of interest to a handful of wealthy people, while the lion’s share of the market shifts to lab-grown.

De Beers, which was a pioneer in the business of lab-grown gems via its Lightbox subsidiary, has consistently played down the threat to its traditional mined-diamond business but sustaining that argument became a little harder on Tuesday when it reported a big production fall in the March quarter.

The 23% drop in output caused Anglo American to lower its full year diamond production target from between 29 million and 32 million carats to between 26-and-29 million carats.

Management blamed the decline on the effect of a build-up of inventory of unsold stones with lab-grown gems cannibalising demand for mined stones.

Forbes Daily: Join over 1 million Forbes Daily subscribers and get our best stories, exclusive reporting and essential analysis of the day’s news in your inbox every weekday.It Could Get A Lot Worse
It could get a lot worse if a recent study of the diamond market by a specialist London jewelry firm is a guide.

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According to Hatton Jewels, which specialises in handling antique second-hand gems and does not sell lab-grown gems, some lab-grown diamonds are spectacular overpriced with retailers inflating their prices by as much as 1200%.

Rachel Smith, head valuer at Hatton said that in the current landscape, every business pays a similar wholesale price for lab-grown diamonds, regardless of disparities in their retail market value.

“The wholesale price of lab-grown diamonds can plummet to as low as 1% of their natural counterparts’ value,” Smith said in an emailed statement.

Smith cited three retail prices for a two-carat F VS1 (high quality) lab-grown diamond being offered for sale at $11,375, $2730 and $866. A gem of that size and quality costs between $500 and $759 to make.

“While some companies uphold integrity by selling lab-grown diamonds at fair market value, ensuring equitable competition, others exploit the situation for profit.


Diamond “growing” machines in India.
“Some retailers inflate prices by as much as 1200%, potentially driven by a desire to maintain the narrative that they are not different from natural diamonds, otherwise they may be considered too cheap and therefore undesirable, or to capitalize on trends at the expense of consumers.”

If Smith is right and lab-grown diamonds are currently being sold at inflated profit margins, the ease with which they are produced will ensure an increase in supply, resulting eventually in a price crash.

When that happens the value of the once-great De Beers business will fade, and the appeal to a mining company like BHP will disappear — if it succeeds in acquiring Anglo American.

Source: Forbes

De Beers’ diamond output drops after slow recovery triggers production cut


Diamond output for De Beers slumped 23 per cent in the first quarter, as production was cut in response to a slow recovery in demand amid a pullback in luxury spending and the proliferation of lab-grown equivalents.

De Beers was the only unit of Anglo American to adjust its full-year production forecast on Tuesday, reducing its guided range to 26mn to 29mn carats of output, from 29mn to 32mn, and lifting expected average costs to $90 per carat, from $80.

Anglo American said the diamond market was suffering from a price rout caused by excess piles of inventory, something that De Beers has previously acknowledged is partly down to lab-grown diamonds cannibalising demand for mined stones.

“Ongoing uncertainty around economic growth prospects has led to a continued cautious purchasing approach” by its customers, Anglo American said. “The recovery in rough diamond demand is expected to be gradual through the rest of the year,” it added.

De Beers said a nascent recovery had begun in the first quarter, buoyed by improved demand for diamond jewellery around Christmas and new year in the US.

Diamond producers including De Beers’ arch-rival, Russia’s Alrosa, tried to curb the flow of gemstones into the market in the second half of last year. The Indian government even put on a voluntary import moratorium on rough stones in the final quarter to protect its polishers and cutters.

Despite those continued efforts into this year, demand, prices and the market recovery remains sluggish, Anglo said, requiring further action to be taken to reduce supply.

Anglo American chief executive Duncan Wanblad has been under pressure to improve performance since a production downgrade in December sent shares tumbling, although it has been aided by higher commodity prices, especially for copper.

Wanblad has said that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to asset sales or other options to restructure units, of which De Beers and the platinum group metals division are the most troubled.

“We are progressing through our asset review to optimise value by simplifying and improving the overall quality of the portfolio,” he said in a statement in the first-quarter production update on Tuesday.

Shares in Anglo American dropped 1.7 per cent in early trading in London and remain about a third lower than they were at the start of 2023.

Besides diamonds, the London-based company managed to maintain its guidance across its other commodities such as copper, iron ore and steelmaking coal.

Copper output jumped 11 per cent to 198,100 tonnes, helped by record throughput at its Quellaveco mine in Peru and higher grades at its Chilean mines Collahuasi and El Soldado.

South Africa, where Anglo American has iron ore, steelmaking coal and platinum mines, has become an increasing drag on production because of crippling problems in the logistics and power sector. Rail constraints resulted in a 2 per cent drop in output at Kumba Iron Ore.


Source: ft.com

The 616 Diamond – Still Uncut and Unsold after 50 Years

It’s 50 years since the world’s largest octahedral diamond was recovered, and even today it remains uncut, unpolished and unsold.

The 616-carat Type 1 yellow diamond, dates back to 17 April 1974 and comes from the Dutoitspan Mine in Kimberley, South Africa, which opened in the 1870s and closed in 2005.

The miner who found the diamond, De Beers employee Abel Maretela, was rewarded with a large bonus and a house.  

Al Cook, De Beers Group CEO, was shown the diamond on a visit to Johannesburg, by Moses Madondo, CEO of De Beers Group managed operations.

“I’m a geologist so I love to learn about the history of diamonds even before they were found,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

“This is a Type 1 diamond which means that it was formed around 150 km below the earth’s surface, deep in the mantle, over 1 billion years ago.

“During the Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago, a kimberlite volcano brought this diamond up to the earth’s surface. Its beautiful yellow colour comes from nitrogen atoms that were trapped inside the carbon lattice when it was forming in the mantle.”

Pics courtesy De Beers.

Source: IDEX

Former De Beers Head Joins Lucapa Board

Industry veteran Stuart Brown, who has led multiple diamond-mining companies, will become chairman of the board at Lucapa Diamond Company.

Brown spent 20 years at De Beers, with stints as both interim CEO and chief financial officer. He was also the head of Firestone Diamonds from 2013 to 2018, and CEO of Mountain Province for three years, Lucapa said Monday.

During his time at Firestone, he raised $225 million to develop the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, Lucapa noted. He is currently a director of Ukrainian iron-ore miner Ferrexpo and of Digby Wells Environmental Holdings, a provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) consulting services to the mining industry.

In addition, Ronnie Beevor will take a seat on the board. He has experience in investment banking and mining, having been the head of Rothschild Australia. He is currently a director of Canadian iron-ore miner Champion Iron and Canadian explorer Mount Royal Resources. He serves as chairman of gold explorer Felix Gold and has recently retired as chairman of Bannerman Energy.

Meanwhile, Ross Stanley has resigned from Lucapa’s board, the company added.

Source: Rapaport

G7 Sanctions Will Harm Botswana’s Diamond Development, Officials Say

The Group of Seven (G7) import restrictions targeting Russian diamonds will have a detrimental impact on Botswana’s diamond trade and may reverse the gains the country has made in recent years, government officials told Rapaport News.

The proposal to create a single-node location through which all diamonds should pass to verify G7 compliance would be a logistical nightmare for producer countries, Lefoko Moagi, Botswana’s minister of mineral resources, green technology, and energy security, said in an interview.

“It creates added time in terms of processing our diamonds and it affects our beneficiation trajectory,” Moagi explained. “This may bring about added costs and unintended consequences that will affect the producer countries.”

In December, the G7 — which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, as well as the European Union — announced new restrictions to prevent the flow of Russian diamonds to their markets. The measures include a ban on direct imports of diamonds from Russia, taking effect at the beginning of the year. From March 1, the sanctions were extended to Russian-origin diamonds polished in a third country, which prompted each G7 nation to issue interim guidelines requiring self-certification by members of the trade declaring their goods did not originate in Russia.

A blockchain-enabled traceability system will be implemented in the final stage on September 1, which the European Commission stipulated will require verification of the diamonds in Antwerp.

Systems in place
Botswana is concerned such a system will result in delays and additional costs, and consequently slow down the development of its own trade.

The government is petitioning the G7 to allow such verification to take place in the producer countries, particularly in Botswana, since it can easily adjust its processes to meet the G7 requirements, noted Emma Peloetletse, permanent secretary to the president, in a separate interview.

“Why not build on what already exists, because we have it?” she contended.

The government hosted the G7 working committee in January to demonstrate its systems and to convince the group that a local registration point can be trusted without fear of contamination by Russian goods.

“The G7 working group was shocked to see our robust systems,” Peloetletse said. “These took years of work and investment to develop.”

She expressed frustration at the lack of engagement by the G7 following the visit and that the working group didn’t have the answers to Botswana’s questions.

Risk to the economy
As a nonaligned nation, Botswana is not opposed to the sanctions, Peloetletse stressed. The country is primarily concerned about the effect their implementation will have on its diamond industry, and subsequently on the economy, she added.

Diamond mining accounts for an estimated 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), while diamond cutting, polishing, and trading makes up about 5%, according to local economist Keith Jefferis, managing director at econsult Botswana.

The domestic economy was estimated to grow 3.2% in 2023, Finance Minister Peggy Serame said in her budget speech on February 5. That represents a slowdown from 5.5% growth in 2022, reflecting “the relatively weak performance of diamond trading and mining activities throughout 2023,” she explained.

Serame projected the economy would grow 4.2% in 2024, but noted several risks that could reverse such gains. Among them are those from within the diamond industry, particularly in the beneficiation subsector, “which would be worsened by the G7 plan to verify the origin of non-Russian goods through diamond certification in Antwerp,” the minister said.

After the De Beers high
The government continues to rely on diamonds to elevate the standard of living in the country and expects its new sales agreement with De Beers, announced last June, will be a catalyst for continued economic growth.

“Diamonds are something we guard with our lives, given what it has done for Botswana and what it can still do for the country,” Moagi said. “That resonated throughout our negotiations with De Beers. There was a meeting of minds with them to reach an agreement that can really boost the economy.”

The agreement will see state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) increase its share of local production from 25% to 50% over the next decade. That will enable ODC to introduce contract sales and subsequently designate rough for beneficiation — something it has been unable to do with its current auction-only sales channels.

The government wants more diamonds to be manufactured in Botswana and views that program as a path to encourage local entrepreneurship in the diamond trade, Moagi explained. ODC is planning to include an allocation for citizens to incubate local diamond manufacturers looking to develop in the beneficiation sector, he continued.

The deal also marked the establishment of the Diamonds for Development Fund (DDF) as a way to enable entrepreneurship both within and outside the diamond industry, the minister explained.

While the De Beers agreement left the government on a high, the G7 plans burst its bubble, Peloetletse added. “Now, when we are supposed to reap what we have sowed, we get this,” she said. “It has left us very anxious about our prospects.”

African lobby
The concern is shared by other producer countries. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi met with his counterparts in Angola and Namibia in late February and sent a joint letter to the G7 leaders outlining their concerns. Their sentiment was echoed by the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), which emphasized the negative economic consequences the G7 measures would have on the entire diamond supply chain.

“In the absence of proper consultation with African producers, it is concluded that the G7 restrictions on diamonds will disrupt the current supply chains and the fundamental business model of the diamond sector by introducing segregation requirements,” the ADPA said in its February 29 statement.

Minister Moagi is hoping for stronger engagement with the G7 decision-makers, rather than just the working committee. There is a sense that not all G7 members agree with the proposed approach to implementation, and that the African producers can leverage their position to negotiate a more practical approach, he said.

Brace for the worst
Ultimately, the African producers, and Botswana in particular, want a stronger say in how their production is handled and leveraged.

While giving license to others to tell the Botswana story, there has been a realization that those outsiders have their own agenda, Peloetletse said. “There is nobody who can tell our story better than us,” she stressed, while referencing the country’s path toward independence as a former British protectorate.

In a similar tone, Moagi stressed that from Botswana’s perspective this is more than an economic issue: “It is an assault on our democracy and the sovereignty of countries,” he cautioned. Peloetletse added that the G7 sanctions constitute just one example in which Botswana is still trying to exert its independence.

Other battles include the reclamation of land from foreign entities, after the government in November set aside BWP 1.4 billion ($102.6 million) for the acquisition of 45,000 hectares in the country’s Northeast District from British-registered Tati Company. While Tati’s status as the largest private landowner in Botswana stems from a 1911 allocation, the recent deal sparked a debate about why the country should pay such a hefty price for its own land.

The government is also engaged in a battle over its wildlife policy as European legislators attempt to ban the import of animal-trophy hunting products from the country. With the largest herd of elephants in the world, and an oversupply of game, the country must manage its ecosystem and incentivize communities to coexist with the animal population, Peloetletse explained. The government has granted the rural communities quotas for trophy hunting, arguing that banning the practice would greatly affect the livelihoods of their residents.

The convergence of these issues, and most notably the potential impact of the G7 sanctions on its diamonds, has left the government feeling uneasy and uncertain how to move forward, said Peloetletse, whose role is to advise President Masisi.

“We have to brace for the worst-case scenario because it’s not clear the G7 is willing to listen or know what it means to our economy,” she said. “Once you close the diamond tap, and the tourism tap, then we’re done, and that’s not what Botswana wants. We aspire to be a high-income country. We want to liberate ourselves.”

Source: Rapaport

Anglo reports latest De Beers’ rough diamond sales value

Anglo American has announced the value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auctions) for De Beers’ second sales cycle of 2024, amounting to US$430 million.

The provisional rough diamond sales figure quoted for Cycle 2 represents the expected sales value for the period and remains subject to adjustment based on final completed sales.

Al Cook, CEO of De Beers, said: “I’m pleased to see a further increase in demand for De Beers rough diamonds during the second sales cycle of 2024. However, ongoing economic uncertainty in the US has led to retailers restocking conservatively after the 2023 holiday season. Consumer demand for diamond jewellery is growing in India but remains sluggish in China. Overall, we expect that the ongoing recovery in rough diamond demand will be gradual as we move through the year.”

Source: globalminingreview

New method could simplify detection of diamond deposits

Geologists from ETH Zurich and the University of Melbourne have established a link between diamond occurrence and the mineral olivine.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists explain that their method will simplify the detection of diamond deposits. The process relies on the chemical composition of kimberlites, which occur only on very old continental blocks that have remained geologically unchanged for billions of years, predominantly in Canada, South America, central and southern Africa, Australia and Siberia.

According to the study’s lead author, Andrea Giuliani, olivine is a mineral that makes up around half of kimberlite rock and consists of varying proportions of magnesium and iron. The more iron olivine contains, the less magnesium it has and vice versa.

“In rock samples where the olivine was very rich in iron, there were no diamonds or only very few,” Giuliani, who has been studying the formation and occurrence of the gemstones since 2015, said in a media statement. “We started to collect more samples and data, and we always got the same result.”

His investigations ultimately confirmed that olivine’s iron-to-magnesium ratio is directly related to the diamond content of the kimberlite. Giuliani and his team took these findings back to De Beers, who had provided them with the kimberlite samples. The company was interested and provided the scientific study with financial support and asked the researchers not to publish the results for the time being.

A slow, repetitive process
In 2019, Giuliani moved from Melbourne to ETH Zurich and, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, began to look for explanations for the connection between olivine’s magnesium and iron content and the presence of diamonds.

With his new colleagues, he examined how the process of metasomatism, which takes place in the earth’s interior, affects diamonds. In metasomatism, hot liquids and melts attack the rock. The minerals present in the rock react with the substances dissolved in the fluids to form other minerals.

The geologists analyzed kimberlite samples that contained olivines with a high iron content—and hence no diamonds. They discovered that olivine becomes richer in iron in the places where melt penetrates the lithospheric mantle and changes the composition of mantle rocks significantly. And it is precisely in this layer, at a depth of around 150 kilometres, that diamonds are present.

The infiltration of the melt that makes olivine richer in iron destroys diamonds. If, on the other hand, no or only a small amount of melt from underlying layers penetrates the lithospheric mantle and thus no metasomatism takes place, the olivine contains more magnesium—and the diamonds are preserved.

“Our study shows that diamonds remain intact only when kimberlites entrain mantle fragments on their way up that haven’t extensively interacted with previous melt,” Giuliani said.

A key point is that kimberlites don’t normally reach the earth’s surface in one go. Rather, they begin to rise as a liquid mass, pick up fragments of the mantle on the way, cool down and then get stuck. In the next wave, more melt swells up from the depths, entrains components of the cooled mantle, rises higher, cools, and gets stuck. This process can happen multiple times.

“It’s a real stop-and-go process of melting, ascent and solidification. And that has a destructive effect on diamonds,” Giuliani noted. If, on the other hand, conditions prevail that allow kimberlites to rise directly to the surface, then this is ideal for the preservation of the gemstones.

De Beers is already using olivine analysis
Olivine analysis is as reliable as previous prospecting methods, which are mainly based on the minerals clinopyroxene and garnet. However, the new method is easier and faster: it takes only a few analyses to get an idea of whether a given kimberlite field has diamonds or not.

“The great thing about this new method is not only that it’s simpler, but also that it finally allows us to understand why the previous methods worked,” Giuliani said. “De Beers is already using this new method.”

Source: mining.com

Botswana Assigns $65M for Stake in Belgian Manufacturer

Botswana has designated BWP 890 million ($65 million) from its new fiscal 2024-2025 budget for the purchase of a 24% stake in Belgian manufacturer HB Antwerp.

The deal, which it first announced in March, calls for the African country to supply rough from state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) to HB Botswana for five years. The partnership would operate in a similar fashion to HB’s previous supply deal with Lucara Diamond Corp, enabling Botswana to retain a share of the polished profits.

Lucara terminated its rough-supply agreement with HB in September, citing a “material breach of financial commitments” by the Belgian manufacturer as the reason for the split. That decision came on the heels of HB’s departure from cofounder and managing partner Oded Mansori, whom it has since reinstated to his original role.

There was media speculation late last year that the Botswana government was pressuring Lucara to reconnect with HB, and that the split could affect Botswana’s interest in the manufacturer. Lucara owns the Karowe mine in Botswana. The miner has since announced that it planned to form new supply deals with other vendors.

Source: Diamonds.net