Strong Demand Sends Ekati Rough Sales Surging

Revenue from the Ekati deposit’s rough production soared during the fourth quarter as demand for its goods strengthened, according to owner Burgundy Diamond Mines.

Sales from the Canadian mine rose 37% year on year to $166 million for the three months that ended December 31, Burgundy reported last week. Sales volume jumped 41% to 1.8 million carats, from 1.3 million carats a year before, outweighing a 2% drop in the average price to $93 per carat.

Output increased 19% to 1.2 million carats for the October-to-December period. During the quarter, Burgundy held four auctions, including one for special stones. The miner sold all of its available inventory during those auctions, it noted.

“Each of our four auctions during the December quarter were oversubscribed due to significant customer demand,” said Burgundy CEO Kim Truter. “This has put us in a strong position with a healthy cash balance to fund the upcoming winter-road resupply and to commence the important work activities to extend the mine life at Ekati.”

Burgundy is currently retrieving ore from two sites at Ekati: an open-pit operation at Sable and an underground one at Misery. It is also working on extending Sable underground and is optimizing the Point Lake area.

Burgundy purchased Ekati from Arctic Canadian Diamond Company for $136 million in March.


Rough Sales for Ekati Mine Rise Despite Market Slowdown

Revenue from the Ekati mine’s rough output climbed 11% during the third quarter, according to owner Burgundy Diamond Mines.

The company sold 784,000 carats of rough from the Canadian deposit for $90 million in total between July 1 and September 13 up from 901,000 carats for $81 million a year earlier. Burgundy reported these figures last month as sales-to-date for the quarter, which ended September 30.

“The sales results…demonstrate the differentiated value of Burgundy diamonds and our transparent and credible sales channels, despite a softer-than-usual market,” said Burgundy CEO Kim Truter.

Burgundy purchased Ekati from Arctic Canadian Diamond Company for $136 million in March. At the same time, it chose not to pursue its options at the Ellendale mine in Australia, of which it had considered taking ownership.

Burgundy had approximately $139 million in rough inventory at the end of August, in addition to its ongoing diamond production, it noted in the September statement.

The company’s shares rose 16% on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) following the announcement.


Significant Potential at Ekati, say New Owners

Vivid yellow rough diamond
Vivid yellow rough diamond

Burgundy’s $136m deal to buy the Ekati diamond mine, in Canada, is likely to extend its life “significantly”, says Kim Truter, the company’s CEO.

The purchase, announced last week, from Arctic Canadian, should be concluded next month, pending financing and shareholders’ approval.

“The real advantage is it’s a tier-one asset in a tier-one country,” Truter told CBC News, Canada’s publicly owned news and information service.

He said he saw untapped potential at Ekati, which opened in 1998 as Canada’s first diamond mine.

Ekati is particularly attractive to Australia-base Burgundy because of the fancy yellow stones it produces, such as the 71.26-carat octahedron diamond recovered last September (pictured), believed to be the largest fancy vivid yellow gemstone discovered in Canada.

New owner Burgundy has a keen interest in yellow diamonds. It is currently reviving the Ellendale mine, Western Australia, once the world’s largest producer of fancy yellow diamonds, and has established its own dedicated cut and polish facility in Perth, also in Western Australia.

Burgundy is buying Ekati from Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, which acquired it in February 2021 after the previous owners, Dominion Diamonds, filed for insolvency.

Source: IDEX Online

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.