Star Diamond recovers 2,409 diamonds in second bulk sample

Star Diamonds

Star Diamond Corp announced that a total A total of 2,409 diamonds weighing 123.27 carats have to date been recovered from the second bulk sample trench (19FALCT004) excavated on its Star kimberlite at the Fort à la Corne kimberlite field in central Saskatchewan.

These initial results are from the second of 10 bulk sample trenches excavated by 60% optionee Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc in 2019.

The average diamond grades from the first two trenches are similar to historical diamond grade results detected from the underground bulk sampling and large diameter drilling completed on the Star kimberlite between 2004 and 2009. These results are also similar to the overall weighted average grade 14 carats per hundred tonnes reported in Star Diamond’s PEA of the Star and Orion South kimberlites .

The three largest diamonds recovered to date from 19FALCT004 are 2.98, 2.03 and 1.99 carats, respectively, and were all recovered from Early Joli Fou kimberlite. The EJF is the dominant kimberlite unit within the project in terms of ore volume and diamond grade.

As disclosed by Star Diamond on August 4, 2020, there are indications that recent diamond breakage has occurred in the diamond parcels recovered thus far from RTEC’s trench cutter bulk sampling program, suggesting that the extraction and/or processing systems being used by RTEC may be resulting in diamond breakage. Comprehensive diamond breakage studies are required to assess the nature and extent of the diamond breakage resulting from RTEC’s methods and the possibility that larger diamonds would have been recovered absent such breakage.

Senior vice president of exploration and development, George Read, states: “The initial diamond results from 19FALCT004 and 19FALCT001 continue to show grades similar to the previous underground bulk sampling and LDD performed by Star Diamond on the Star kimberlite. Individual EJF kimberlite samples recovered in the first two trenches exhibit a range of grades 9.81 to 21.22 cpht for 19FALCT004 and 4.88 to 23.34 cpht for 19FALCT001, which are as expected for the EJF kimberlite.”

Source: resourceworld

A Crucial Moment for Artisanal Miners

Artisanal Miners Sierra Leone

The question of how to tackle the hardships facing informal diamond miners is as pressing today as it was when it first arose nearly 20 years ago.

It was first touted as an issue that perhaps the Kimberley Process (KP) could incorporate into its mission. But the KP was not equipped — or mandated — to meet the challenge, even if the sector represented an Achilles heel for a body tasked with facilitating the cross-border trade of responsibly sourced rough.

Instead, the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) formed, taking a developmental approach to advancing artisanal miners. Since its inception, the DDI’s goal has been to create an infrastructure that allows these miners to sell their diamonds through legitimate means, get a fair price for them, and make a sustainable living.

Operating primarily, though not exclusively, in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the organization’s work includes enabling community development; engaging with governments to formulate policies; organizing miners into cooperatives; providing professional training; and running initiatives to raise the diggers’ income, such as introducing them to new buyers.

Typically, the diggers work for less than $2 a day. With such low income, they’ve historically been incentivized to sell their diamonds on the black market, where the stones may be smuggled across the border, mixed with other goods, given a KP certificate and sold on the global market.

With an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people working in the sector across 15 countries in Africa and three in South America, the DDI has spent much of its time registering miners in its systems and educating them on how they can benefit from working through its channels.

The organization achieved a significant milestone in April last year when it launched the Maendeleo Diamond Standards, a certification system designed to connect artisanal and small-scale diamond miners with responsible supply chains.

The standards include training on legal issues, community engagement, human rights, health and safety, ways to ensure violence-free operations, environmental management, interactions with large-scale mining, and navigating a site closure.

Clearly, given the scope of the artisanal mining sector, challenges remain. The DDI has had limited resources to pursue its goals and expand its reach.

In that context, the group announced in late July that it had merged with Resolve, a much larger non-government organization (NGO) engaged in addressing social, health and environmental issues. Being part of Resolve will give the DDI additional resources, such as administrative support for the work it wants to carry out, explained DDI founder and chairman Ian Smillie, who is joining Resolve’s board of advisers along with DDI vice chair Stephane Fischler. The group will be a division within Resolve and go by [email protected], with DDI executive director Ian Rowe at the helm.

The merger was born of the realization that the vast number of initiatives out there advocating for artisanal miners — not just in diamonds, but also in minerals such as gold, cobalt, tin, tantalum and tungsten — could lead to confusion. With NGOs, private companies, and government agencies all approaching donors and policy-makers to get support for their programs, the messaging could get muddled, Smillie explained. A pooling of resources would make for more efficient processes and a better outcome for the artisanal mining community.

Another example in July was De Beers’ GemFair program partnering with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the Mano River Union — a cross-border association comprising Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and the Ivory Coast — to develop training in those four countries. Efforts like these have become especially important in the Covid-19 environment, where diamond demand has slumped to historic lows.

While the pandemic has halted activity in the DRC, Sierra Leone has been better able to manage due to its experience with the 2014 Ebola outbreak. But like the rest of the trade, artisanal miners need to think beyond Covid-19 and make sure the right systems are in place to facilitate sales when demand returns. That challenge is especially difficult for these miners, who rely on the DDI’s guidance to gain access to the global diamond market. Hopefully, Resolve will help broaden the DDI’s scope. And as activity scales up, it will be up to the greater jewelry industry to support this important part of the global diamond community.

Source: Diamonds.net

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

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

Angola Seizes 6,579 carats of Illegal Rough Diamonds

Angolan rough diamond

Authorities in Angola have seized 6,579 carats of rough diamonds in a crackdown on illegal mining and immigration.

Nineteen cars and $275,000 in cash were also confiscated, according to the government-run Angop news agency.

Operation Transparency was aimed at more than 700 small diamond prospectors in the country. Two thirds were found not to meet the interior ministry’s requirements and only 260 have been allowed to carry on prospecting.

The government also deported many migrant working in diamond mines from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, a move that attracted sharp criticism from the independent Human Rights Watch.

The operation was launched in the north-eastern Lunda Norte Province December 2018.  

Source: IDEX

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

Diamond sales at Lucapa total $49.5 million year-to-date

Lucapa Diamond Mine

African miner Lucapa Diamond Company said yesterday its latest sales of diamonds from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola and the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho totaled $10.4 million.

Year to date sales are $45.9 million.

The average price per carat is $1,087 at the Lulo Mine. Excluded from the figures is a 46-carat pink diamond, which has been exported by SML to Antwerp and is being assessed for polishing.

At the Mothae Mine, the average price per carat was $837. The mine began operations in January. The company said the mine has already recovered seven +50 carat diamonds.

Lucapa Diamond is focused on becoming a producer of large and premium-quality diamonds from alluvial and kimberlite sources.

De Beers Finds Buyer for Namibia Mine

De Beers Elizabeth Bay Diamond Mine

De Beers has sold the Elizabeth Bay mine for $8.2 million USD, a year after it ceased operations at the deposit.

The miner chose Lewcor Group, a 100% Namibian owned consortium, following an extensive search for a new owner that would be able to operate the mine — part of its Namdeb joint venture with the government of Namibia in a sustainable way, and would also retain De Beers’ employees and contribute economic value to Namibia, it said last week. However, the amount of the transaction could increase to $12.4 million USD, as Namdeb will earn a share of revenue from the sale of diamonds recovered from certain marine mining areas.

“Throughout this process, our objective has been to create the best possible circumstances for reopening the operations, recreating jobs and growing empowered participation in Namibia’s diamond industry,” said Chris Nghaamwa, chairman of Namdeb. “A rigorous, independently advised process enabled Namdeb to select a company with not only the right mining and financial credentials, but also a commitment to meet future social and environmental obligations.”

De Beers ceased operations at the site in September 2018. Although the mine still contains a viable supply of diamonds, output failed to meet the company’s needs and it could no longer run the deposit economically, it said.

Source: diamonds.net

STORNOWAY DIAMONDS MISSES 2018 PRODUCTION GUIDANCE

STORNOWAY DIAMONDS

Canadian diamond miner Stornoway Diamonds has produced 1.32 million carats in the 2018 financial year, missing its guidance of “at least 1.35 million carats” for the year, Mining Weekly reports.

President and CEO Patrick Godin said that 2018 was a “challenging year” for the company, as the ramp-up of underground production of the Renard 2 underground mine was “impacted by delays in equipment deliveries, a competitive labour market and the presence of more-than-expected low-grade mineralisation on the northern margin of the Renard 2 orebody”. However, the company’s third and fourth quarter production results “demonstrated significant improvements in grade and carat recoveries”. For 2019, Stornoway expects to produce between 1.8 million and 2.10 million carats.

As for sales, in 2018 Stornoway sold 1.04 million carats for gross proceeds of C$141 million ($106,362,645). In the fourth quarter, sales amounted to 253,929 carats, netting C$31 million (23,384,695).

Souce: israelidiamond

Low Prices Trigger A Four-Way Merger Proposal For African Diamond Miners

Gem Diamond Mine

Tough times in some parts of the diamond-mining industry has prompted an innovative solution, a four-way merger to create a new southern African diamond specialist.

The proposal, from the London office of the German bank, Berenberg, could see Gem Diamonds, Petra Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation and Firestone Diamonds emerge as a single business with enhanced financial metrics courtesy of cost savings and a focus on big, high-quality gems.

If the deal happens, and at this stage it is just a proposal from Berenberg and not something the diamond-miners have embraced, the new business would have mines in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Lesotho.

3% By Volume, 8% by Value

Collective diamond production would total five million carats a year, which is equivalent to 3% of global output, but more importantly the proposed business would account for 8% of diamond supply by value.

The difference between volume and value is the key to Berenberg’s plan which has been published at a time when miners of small and low-grade diamonds are battling a flooded market whereas companies able to supply high-quality gems are generating strong profits.

An uncut 25 carat diamond mined in Botswana.

Values At Trough Levels

Berenberg said in a research report titled “Consolidating African diamond mining” that current valuations of diamond mining companies were at trough levels with lacklustre enthusiasm for the sector.

“We think something new is needed to return this sector to its former glory,” Berenberg said.

The bank said the logical way to start the process would be for a transaction between Lucara and Gem, which would create the go-to business for large diamonds, followed by a transaction with Petra and then with Firestone rolled into the structure.

Each company has its own production profile but Lucara is the best known for big diamonds having given the world the monster Lesedi La Rona in 2015, an 1109 carat stone which sold for $53 million and has since been cut into 67 smaller gems by Graf Diamonds.

Strong Cash Flow 

According to Berenberg’s multi-stage merger proposal the new business would emerge with annual revenue of around $1.1 billion and free cash flow of $200 million.

The merged business would overcome problems which hurt investor interest in smaller diamond miners including low stock-market value, high debt levels, project risk, limited growth options and a lack of return to shareholders.

“Our $1.3 billion market capitalization business would have listings in Canada, London and Sweden and, through the ability to pay an attractive dividend (we calculate a possible yield of 7%-to-8%) and the potential to attract investment from a range of global investors,” Berenberg said.

Source: Forbes