Rough Shortages Could Last 10 Years, Bain Says

The current shortfall in rough production will likely continue for up to a decade, while both demand and prices will remain strong, according to Bain & Company.

Output fell 20% to 111 million carats in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic forced companies to shut deposits, Bain said Monday in “The Global Diamond Industry 2021-22,” the latest edition of its annual report on the sector. Production increased 4.5% to 116 million carats in 2021, when mines reopened. However, solid demand for diamond jewelry depleted resources, as did the closure of Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Australia, which accounted for 11 million carats a year.

“Demand was so strong, production levels had to be supplemented by inventory,” Bain partner Olya Linde told Rapaport News. “We have not seen such strong demand for a long time. Actually, I have not seen such a big boom in all my time in the industry. Going forward, it’s not that easy to just add production. So, while demand will continue to remain strong, the ability for players to increase production in the short term is very limited.”

Miners’ “technical” inventories — goods that have been extracted but are not yet ready for sale — fell to an all-time low of 29 million carats in 2021, Linde claimed.

Over the next five years, rough output is expected to grow between 1% and 2% annually, reaching just over 122 million carats by the end of 2022 — still 10% to 15% below pre-pandemic levels.

Rising jewelry demand

In 2021, demand for diamond jewelry rose 29% globally and 38% in the US, well above pre-pandemic figures. China, the second-largest market, showed similar growth, Linde noted.

“At the end of the consumer holiday season and coming into the new year, there is still a lot of interest and demand,” she explained. “Even in 2022, we can expect that demand will continue, probably not at the same level of recovery, but it will definitely be robust enough. Although we don’t have a crystal ball, and don’t know how prices will behave for sure, given that supply is limited, it sets a foundation to support very healthy price growth across categories.”

Lack of new supply

The dearth of new mines coming online as others go offline or approach their end of life is also contributing to the gloomy production forecast. While exploration is underway in Botswana, Angola, Australia and Canada, the only project that will significantly add to output in the near term is the Luaxe mine in Angola, Linde said.

“We do not expect production to recover to 139 million carats [seen in 2019] in the next five years, for sure, and even not in the next 10 years, honestly, unless there will be a major unexpected discovery that could be brought up to production fairly quickly,” she noted. “We have to remember not only do we have a very limited number of new projects, but existing mines also have declining production levels.”

Filling the hole

While availability will decrease across most categories, it is unlikely lab-grown diamonds will cover the natural-diamond shortfall, as they are doing well in their own, separate category, Linde said.

Growth in synthetics over the past year was likely supported by both a decrease in prices, as well as higher transaction volumes, she explained.

“I don’t believe that one category is taking market share away from the other,” she added. “If you look at last year, if the market is operating purely on substitution, you would be hard pressed to really say where all this demand is coming from. In the US, it far outgrew pre-pandemic levels. What that suggests to me is that there are additional consumers that are coming to make lab-grown diamond purchases that we have not seen before in the diamond sector.”

Source: Diamonds.net

Lucara Recovers 1,174 Carat Diamond from the Karowe Mine in Botswana

1,174.76 carat rough diamond

Lucara Diamond Corp. is pleased to announce the recovery of a 1,174.76 carat diamond from its 100% owned Karowe Diamond Mine located in Botswana.

The diamond, measuring 77x55x33mm, is described as a clivage gem of variable quality with significant domains of high-quality white gem material, and was recovered from direct milling of ore sourced from the EM/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe.

The 1,174 carat diamond represents the third +1,000 carat diamond recovered from the South Lobe of the AK6 kimberlite since 2015 including the 1,758 carat Sewelô and 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona.

The 1,174.76 carat diamond was recovered in the Mega Diamond Recovery XRT circuit. On the same production day, several other diamonds of similar appearance (471 carat, 218 carat, 159 carat) were recovered at the main XRT circuit, indicating the 1,174 diamond was part of a larger diamond with an estimated weight of > 2000 carats.

The MDR is positioned after the primary crusher, ahead of the autogenous mill, and is the first opportunity for diamond recovery within the circuit.

Beware a Supply Bottleneck

rough diamonds

The positive sentiment the diamond market experienced during the past few months was a welcome change from the gloomy tone that characterized 2020. Buoyed by holiday sales that proved better than expected, the trade gained the confidence to buy again, even with activity limited mostly to online platforms.

For the first time in many years, polished suppliers struggled to fill orders due to shortages during the fourth quarter. Just a year earlier, the midstream was plagued by what seemed to be a chronic oversupply that pushed down polished prices and caused profit margins to tighten. Among the few benefits of the Covid-19 lockdowns was that manufacturers were forced to freeze rough purchases, stop production, and start depleting the excess inventory they had.

With fewer goods available, it was understandable that the rough market would wake up again in the fourth quarter. The resurgence was a remarkable one, too: The combined volume of De Beers’ and Alrosa’s rough sales rose 57% year on year to 23.9 million carats in the final three months of the year. That’s more carats in a quarter than the two have sold since the beginning of 2017 — itself an anomaly period that arguably fueled the ensuing oversupply crisis.

The positive momentum continued into the new year with reports of sizable rough sales last month. De Beers notched its largest sight in three years, while Petra Diamonds and Mountain Province continued to see good demand at their tender sales, with prices up 8%.

In the February issue of the Rapaport Research Report, we consider the question of whether the strong rough sales are a product of polished demand or of the low supply that typified the market earlier in 2020. It could be both. What’s certain is that the rough market must cool in the coming months or risk throwing the industry back into a polished-oversupply scenario.

Such an event would undo the hard work that went into restoring an equilibrium between the rough and polished markets. It would also fuel skepticism about the stated intention — by miners, manufacturers and retailers alike — of ensuring the diamond market becomes demand driven and more efficient in its operations.

Now, at the start of February 2021, the industry is at a crossroads. Manufacturers must curb their rough purchases to maintain the balance we’ve achieved in recent months and ensure a sustainable recovery. While the holiday season was relatively positive for the industry, global diamond jewelry sales have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels and are unlikely to do so this year. For now, this means the recovery remains a supply-driven one, and the industry needs to walk the fine line between caution and its enthusiasm to do business again. 

Source: Diamonds.net

Threat of synthetics is an opportunity for diamond traceability

Namibia rough diamonds

The Namibia Desert Diamonds General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Lelly Usiku, said the threat of synthetic diamonds has brought about an opportunity in the diamond industry to focus on the traceability of the precious stones to verify diamond origins from the mines to jewellery.

Usiku expressed these sentiments during a panel discussion on the diamond industry and its associated value chains. She further outlined that Covid-19 forced Namdia to investigate the possibilities of online trading in order to replicate the physical viewing with a virtual viewing experience.

Chief Executive Officer of Namdia, Kennedy Hamutenya, said in protecting the image of diamonds, the industry made a commitment in 2008 on the number of producers and manufacturers through the Kimberly Process. He said the process helped squeeze out undesirable elements from the diamond business.

According to Hamutenya, trading partnered states agreed to create a menu for the world and buyers that ensured diamonds on the market would not be associated with conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds are diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, or warlord activities.
“So, we said every country must implement systems and procedures from the very starting point of mining to the point of export to ensure that there is no penetration of conflict diamonds.

Today, as we speak, 99.8% of all our diamonds are clean, thanks to the Kimberly Process. We have done everything possible to prevent conflict diamonds to penetrate our pipeline,” Hamutenya stated.

According to him, Namdeb Holdings has spent N$3 billion on local procurement of goods and services for the last financial year.
Also, at the same occasion, Brent Eiseb, CEO of the Namibia Diamond Trading Company, elaborated on their mandate and said they sort and value diamonds. He noted that the process entails highly skilled employees as well as technology.
He added that whether diamond mining happens on land or offshore, the value is only confirmed when the stones go through NDTC’s evaluation process.

“This is an important process as it determines the value of royalties and taxes that is to be paid by producers to the government. Another mandate is to facilitate downstream diamond beneficiation.
We take about N$430 million in indexed diamonds and make them available for value addition in Namibia,” explained Eiseb.
He added that this process is vital because it requires quality infrastructure, especially in Namibia, for cutting and polishing of diamonds and also for creating the most job opportunities.

Eiseb concluded that the diamond industry is important in providing for the country at large through development diamonds. He indicated that 85% of total revenue that is created through the sales of diamonds ends up in state coffers through royalties, taxes, and levies that are payable and dividends.

Source: neweralive

Southstone Minerals recovers many large, high quality diamonds

Southstone Minerals

Southstone Minerals Ltd. [SML-TSXV] provided a production and operational update for December 1, 2019, to February 28, 2020 (Q2 2020), and March 1 to May 31, 2020 (Q3 2020), on its project portfolio in South Africa.

The Oena Project consists of one New Order Mining Lease located in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Oena is 8,800 hectares in size and covers a 4.8-km wide strip along a 15-km length of the lower Orange River. Southstone owns 43% of African Star Minerals (Pty) Limited which owns 100% of the property.

Southstone continues to focus and prioritize its efforts on the alluvial Oena diamond mine. There is currently one mining contractor on site using eight pan plants to process run-of-mine (ROM) material and one Bourevestnik (BVX) unit used for diamond recovery.

Production results for both Q1 and Q2 were impacted as a result of the mandatory closure of the mine for the period from March 26, 2020, to May 3, 2020, due to COVID-19. A total of 803.92 carats (112 diamonds) were produced, placed on tender and sold with an average price of US $1,957 per carat.

Bluedust Carats produced No. of stones US$/carat

Q2 2020 ROM 588.14 77 1,942

Q3 2020 ROM 215.78 35 2,001

The Oena diamond mine continues to produce very large and high-quality diamonds. For example, 52.62 carats (sold for US $127,975), 44.25 carats (US$243,000), and 37.03 carats ($188,962). Twenty other stones were greater than 10 carats.

Kwena Group, Republic of South Africa

Shareholders approved the disposition of the Kwena Group on May 15, 2020, and the company received final approval from the TSX Venture Exchange on the May 25, 2020. This disposition of the Kwena Group resulted in a total of 4,527,416 shares being returned to treasury and the forgiveness of outstanding indebtedness of the equivalent of $1.2-million.

Southstone agreed to settle an outstanding debt of $35,430 to two creditors by issuing 708,600 shares at $0.05 per share, subject to TSXV approval.

Source: resourceworld.com

Belgium’s Diamond Shipments Drop Further

The Diamond Office in Antwerp. (Antwerp World Diamond Centre)

Belgium’s diamond trade slowed in June, with polished exports down 44% year on year to $469 million, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). However, the rate of decline eased following heavier drops in April and May, when the global industry shut due to the coronavirus. US orders rose 4% to $173 million in June, indicating a gradual recovery as the important retail market reopened.

Belgium Trade Data for June 2020
 June 2020Year-on-year change
   
Polished exports$469M-44%
Polished imports$350M-66%
Net polished exports$120M2019: Deficit of $185M
Rough imports$351M-48%
Rough exports$237M-71%
Net rough imports$114M2019: Deficit of $125M
Net diamond account$6M2019: Deficit of $60M
   
Polished exports: volume146,350 carats-60%
Average price of polished exports$3,206/carat40%
   
 1H 2020Year-on-year change
   
Polished exports$2.49B-58%
Polished imports$2.51B-59%
Net polished exports-$14MDeficit decreased 95%
Rough imports$2.75B-37%
Rough exports$2.25B-55%
Net rough imports$494M2019: Deficit of $621M
Net diamond account-$508M2019: Surplus of $360M
   
Polished exports: volume1.2 million carats-46%
Average price of polished exports$2,097/carat-21%


Source: Antwerp World Diamond Centre; Rapaport archives

About the data: Belgium is usually a net exporter of polished diamonds. As such, net polished exports — representing polished exports minus polished imports — will normally be a positive number. The nation is also a net exporter of rough. While Antwerp is home to some high-value manufacturing, its main role in the market is as a facilitator of rough-diamond trading, with companies from around the world coming to the city to buy rough. The net diamond account is total rough and polished exports minus total imports. It is Belgium’s diamond trade balance, and shows the added value the nation creates by exporting rough or manufacturing it into polished.

Source: Diamonds.net

Dominion Diamond unveils plan to avoid bankruptcy

Ekati diamond mine

Canada’s Dominion Diamond Mines has unveiled a transaction that would allow it to exit court protection from creditors and access short-term operating funds, which would pave the way to eventually restart its idled Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The company, which owns and operates the iconic Ekati diamond mine and also has a 40% interest in the nearby Diavik, said it had signed a letter of intent with an affiliate of The Washington Companies.

The privately held Montana-based conglomerate bought Dominion for $1.2 billion in 2017 when the miner was the world’s third-largest producer of rough diamonds by value.

Under the agreement, which requires court approval, Washington would buy the company’s assets for about $177 million, while assuming its operating liabilities.

It would also provide Dominion with up to $84 million in short-term debtor-in-possession financing.

Ekati has been halted since March to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The operation was left with about $180 million worth of inventory, which it has been unable to sell since its Belgian retailers remain closed. 

The diamond miner said at the time that covid-19 had a “devastating impact” on the global diamond mining industry, affecting the company.

According to court documents seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors, Dominion revenue from diamond sales last year reached about $528 million.

The company said the proposed sale would be conditional on reaching an agreement with Rio Tinto on the Diavik joint venture. Failing that, Dominion would exclude its interest in the Yellowknife diamond mine from the transaction.

The miner is a major employer in the Northwest Territories, with 634 workers, 60% of whom are locals. Only 212 people are currently at the mines, which are fly-in and fly-out operations. This allows for a pre-screening of the staff before they are allowed to board flights to Ekati and Diavik.

Shattered dreams

The global coronavirus outbreak squashed diamond miners’ dawning hopes of a recovery in a sector already reeling from weak prices and demand since late 2018.

De Beers, the world’s largest producer by value, cut 2020 production guidance by a fifth last month after earlier cancelling its April sales event.

Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s top diamond producer by output, saw sales for rough and polished diamonds drop to $15.6 million. The figure stood in stark contrast to the $152.8 million the diamond miner fetched in March and the $405 million in January.

Lucara Diamond, another Canadian company, posted earlier this month a net loss of $3.2 million, or $0.01 a share, for the first three months of the year.

The figure was in sharp contrast with the $7.4 million in net income, or $0.02 in earning per share the miner reported in the same period last year.

South Africa’s Petra Diamonds recently delayed interest payments to borrow $21 million in new debt, a crucial move to keep the company afloat.

Investment banks are increasingly reluctant to extend credit to diamond producers, as inventory is not being sold and defaults are possible, analysts have warned.

“We are concerned about an oversupply of rough diamonds following the reopening of economies, as a lot of inventory could potentially be flooded into the system and the market might not be able to absorb all of it, resulting in increased pricing pressure,” Citi said in an early May note.

Source: mining.com

Zimbabwe’s ZCDC Sets Sight On Doubling Diamond Production

Zimbabwe Diamond Production

The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) failed to meet its 2019 target of 3 million carats, but officials are buoyant fortunes will turn around as the firm has consolidated its investments in exploration, mining and processing to improve output this year.

Speaking durng a media tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields on Friday last week, Acting ZCDC Chief Executive Officer Roberto DePreto said they are aiming to double the 1.6 million carats produced last year through joint venture agreements, increased exploration as well as mitigating viability challenges, linked to power shortages and access to foreign currency.

“Since the Diamond Policy was issued we are now looking for joint venture partners, those joint venture partners get allocated a particular concession and we then subdivide the (overall) 626 special grant into specific special grants for those venture companies.

“Last year we produced 1.6 million carats and this year we are targeting to double that through our investments in new plant machinery and our exploration capabilities,” said DePreto.

Consuming an average of 5 megawatts and at 25 000 of diesel daily, ZCDC has also invested in new plant machinery from Belarus which needs foreign currency for repair and maintenance, with at least seventy percent of consumables and spares imported.

Officials said such overheads have hampered production targets, costing in total a minimum of 8 million tons of unprocessed diamond ore from the down time caused by the listed operation constrains.

Mine manager, Innocent Guvakuva said focus will be placed on optimizing processing capacity, already on a positive trajectory following acquisition of new plant machinery, as well as improving power supply to reduce production downtime.

“Last year there were issues to do with power, this year there has been a bit of improvement but last year it was worse, issues to do with fuel and general forex availability because 70 percent of all consumables and spares we import.

“So, if your foreign currency access scenario is not stable you are bound to suffer, but this year things have started on a better note… one of the biggest challenges in Zimbabwe is that we are a cash economy.

“We lost a lot last year in terms of production down time we lost, probably in terms of total material mined we are looking at about 8 million tones that we could have moved last year, which is very big,” said Guvakuva.

He added, “We have installed a 450 ton per hour plant it’s got phases now we are installing phase three where carat production is expected to go up, our focus now in terms of mining we are stable but it’s the liberation and optimization of the plant that we will work on.”

Guvakuva said focus will also be placed on greenfield and ground field, together with exploration contractors under a ‘hybrid exploration model’ in the seven approved special grants in regions considered diamondiferous.

“We are increasing our exploration through a hybrid model in the sense that we have our own exploration drill rigs, commissioned them in 2018, they are called diamond drill rigs that can drill up to 250 metres, we have what we call a Reverse Circulation Rigs (RCO).

“We have also engaged contractors which makes it the hybrid model, they have done work right now the contract has ended, but we are doing a lot of exploration we have a lot of ground field and greenfield projects all over the place.

“ZCDC we have seven approved special grants, in this whole area which is about 26 to 30 kilometers its assumed to be diamondiferous, but the economics of it is what we do through exploration. To say we will be here for two or three years I will be lying (is an under estimation) but we will be here for a very long time,” said Guvakuva.

Source: allafrica

BlueRock Diamonds Reports Profitability

BlueRock Diamond

BlueRock Diamonds has announced that it operated profitably for the first time in the second half of 2019. The miner started operations in 2012.

The AIM-listed diamond producer, which owns and operates the Kareevlei Diamond

Mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa said its revenue was up 190 percent to £4.1 million ($5.4 million) for full year 2019. 

The miner sold 12,675 for the year, an increase of 118 percent over the 5,805 carats in 2018. On a quarterly basis, Q4 2019 saw an increase of 172 percent to 4,170 carats compared to 1,533 carats in Q4 2018.  

BlueRock also saw an increase in its average price per carat during Q4 and FY2019. For 2019, the per-carat price increased 24 percent to $415 (2018: $334) and for the quarter it rose 30 percent to $410 (2018: $316). 

“I am very pleased with the continued success at Kareevlei,” said Mike Houston, BlueRock executive chairman. “Having achieved the aggressive guidance for 2019 and operated profitably for the first time in the second half of 2019. We are proud of this key milestone, which is a testament to the implementation of the revised production strategy brought in by the company’s new management team in Q2 2019.”

BlueRock said it expects to report positive EBITDA and positive comprehensive income for

the second half of 2019 (excluding non-cash adjustments for IFRS 9 charges and movement in foreign exchange). 

The company said the first quarter of 2020 has started “satisfactorily” with expectations that, despite the impact of seasonal rains, it will meet its targeted production volumes for the quarter, which are significantly ahead of those achieved in Q1 2019.

Source: IDEX

WD Sues Diamond Growers over CVD Patents

A 9.04-carat round brilliant produced by WD Lab Grown Diamonds in 2018 using chemical vapor deposition.

The companies behind WD Lab Grown Diamonds have filed three lawsuits against competitors, accusing them of infringing patents for diamond synthesis and treatment.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington, a science organization, and M7D Corporation, which trades as WD Lab Grown Diamonds, took action Thursday again six companies that produce or sell diamonds made using chemical vapor deposition (CVD).

One of the complaints targets Pure Grown Diamonds (PGD) and IIa Technologies, which produces CVD goods for PGD. A second filing is against Mahendra Brothers, a De Beers sightholder, and its affiliate, Fenix Diamonds. The third suit takes aim at Altr, another lab-grown supplier, and its owner, R.A. Riam.

Carnegie invented and patented a version of CVD, known as microwave-plasma CVD (MPCVD), that can create a purer diamond because it doesn’t involve electrodes, which often contaminate the product, according to the lawsuits. It also patented a method for enhancing a stone’s visual characteristics through heat treatment at high pressure and temperature. M7D holds the license to both patents, the three similar lawsuits continued.

“The existence of the patents…are well-known in the lab-grown diamond industry, and in particular are well-known by lab-grown diamond manufacturers, importers and sellers,” Carnegie and M7D claimed.

Carnegie and M7D are seeking damages and a judgment declaring that the six companies violated their patents. The companies were not available for comment Sunday.

Source: Diamonds.net