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

Rio Tinto Workers Killed en Route to Diavik Diamond Mine

A number of remote employees at Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in Canada died Tuesday after the small plane carrying them to the site crashed.

“We have been informed by authorities that a plane on its way to our Diavik mine, carrying a number of our people, crashed…resulting in fatalities,” said Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm.

The company has not disclosed how many died on board the aircraft, which seats 19 people. The plane crashed near Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories shortly after takeoff. Rio Tinto employs many remote workers, who operate in shifts at the mine. Because of its isolated location, the miner transports workers by aircraft to and from the deposit.

“I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been affected by this tragedy,” Stausholm said. “As a company, we are absolutely devastated by this news and [are] offering our full support to our people and the community, who are grieving today. We are working closely with authorities and will help in any way we can with their efforts to find out exactly what happened.”

Northwest Territories Premier R.J. Simpson also mourned the loss.

“It is with a heavy heart that I express my deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who were aboard the Northwestern Air flight that crashed outside of Fort Smith today,” he noted. “The impact of this incident is felt across the territory…. As we seek to understand the circumstances of this tragedy, I’d also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the first responders and rescue teams who continue to work tirelessly at the crash site.”

It is unclear whether the crash will impact diamond production or sales at Diavik.

Source: Diamonds.net

Rio Tinto Output Dwindles as Mine Depletes

Rio Tinto’s diamond production fell in 2023 following the closure of portions of its Diavik mine in Canada earlier in the year.

Total production dropped 28% to 3.3 million carats for the full year, the company said Tuesday. Rio Tinto completed mining at Diavik’s A418 underground area and at its A21 open-pit kimberlite pipes, it explained. Improvements in the volume of ore produced at the A154N underground partially offset the loss in output from those portions.

In the fourth quarter, output slipped 50% year on year to 659,000 carats, and was down 13% from the previous quarter.

Diavik is Rio Tinto’s sole diamond mine following the closure of Australia’s Argyle deposit in November 2020. The miner’s share of Diavik increased from 60% to 100% in November 2021, when it assumed control of the asset following the inability of its joint-venture partner, Dominion Diamond Mines, to pay its share of upkeep. In November, Rio Tinto also sold its 75% share of the Fort à la Corne diamond exploration project in Saskatchewan to joint-venture partner Star Diamond Corporation, in an effort to focus on metals and minerals.

Rio Tinto will spend $40 million to move into underground mining at the A21 portion of Diavik, which it believes could add more than 2 million carats of rough production, it reported in February 2023. That expansion is due to keep the mine in operation until the first quarter of 2026.

Meanwhile, the company did not provide rough-production guidance for 2024.

Source: Diamonds.net

Rio Tinto Delighted with Argyle and Diavik Tender

Rio Tinto said it was delighted with the results of its first Beyond Rare Tender of polished pink and red diamonds from Argyle, in Australia, and yellow stones from Diavik, Canada, though it declined to reveal any prices.

Sinead Kaufman, chief executive of Rio Tinto Minerals, said only that the results reflected the global demand for highly collectible natural colored diamonds.

The first in a series of sales featured a collection of 87 diamonds, weighing 29.96 carats in total. Successful bidders came from Australia, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, US and Israel.

Among the lots were seven Masterpiece sets of Argyle dink diamonds and yellow Diavik diamonds, 11 matched pairs of colored diamonds and 30 single diamonds, including one remarkable fancy red Argyle diamonds.

The iconic Argyle mine closed in November 2020 after 37 years. It produced 90 per cent of the world’s pink, red, blue and violet diamonds.

Source: IDEX

Rio Tinto sells stake in Canadian diamond project, ups interest in copper

Rio Tinto is reshuffling its interests in two Canadian projects as the global miner seeks to focus on assets considered key for the world’s transition to a green economy, such as copper and lithium.

The company has decided to sell its 75% interest in the Fort à la Corne diamond project in central Saskatchewan to joint venture partner Star Diamond Corp. in exchange for shares in the junior.

As a result, Rio Tinto Exploration Canada will own a 19.9% stake in the exploration and development company.

Rio Tinto’s head of exploration Dave Andrews said the company was now “firmly focused” on identifying opportunities in metals and minerals that support the energy transition.

“We are grateful to Rio Tinto for the significant monetary investment and expertise it has contributed to the project over the past more than five years, which has meaningfully advanced what Star Diamond believes is one of the most promising diamond projects in the world,” president and CEO Ewan Mason said in a statement.

Rio Tinto’s move follows years of tension between the partners over the terms of their development agreement. The situation saw both companies face off in court and, at one point Star Diamond considered cutting RTEC out of the project.

The partners reached an agreement on the subject in December 2021, after which RTEC put the project on hold until it could determine whether it wanted to continue or exit the venture. The camp was demobilized, and the project put on care and maintenance in the first quarter of 2023.

Copper and lithium
Rio Tinto has also moved to increase its stake in Canada’s Western Copper and Gold Corporation (TSX: WRN), which is advancing the Casino project in the Yukon Territory.

Under the deal, RTEC is acquiring 3,468,208 common shares at a price of C$1.73 per share, or about C$6 million ($4.4m) total. This increases Rio Tinto’s ownership to 9.7% of Western’s outstanding common shares.

Vancouver-based Western Copper and Gold, which remains the sole owner of the Casino project, said it would use the proceeds of this fresh investment to fund specific areas of study with the aim of progressing through permitting to a development phase of the proposed mine.

“We are pleased that Rio Tinto has elected to continue to invest and work with Western to advance the Casino project, with a focus on furthering infrastructure development and streamlining the regulatory process,” CEO Paul West-Sells said in the statement.

Rio Tinto chief executive officer Jakob Stausholm recently said in an interview that the company continued to look for ways to increase exposure to key minerals and metals, particularly copper and lithium.

Source; Mining.com

Rio Tinto to Hold Tender of 87 Fancy-Colored Diamonds

Rio Tinto has launched the Beyond Rare Tender, an inaugural collection of 48 lots of polished fancy-colored diamonds.

The miner will offer 87 diamonds in total, including its legacy inventory of pink and red stones from the shuttered Argyle diamond mine in Australia and yellow diamonds from its Diavik site in Canada, it said on Tuesday.

The new collection is “a testimony to the ongoing demand for highly collectible natural diamonds,” said Sinead Kaufman, chief executive of Rio Tinto Minerals. “This carefully curated collection of rare jewels will be in strong demand by the world’s finest jewelers, collectors and diamond connoisseurs.”

Titled The Art Series, the invitation-only tender is inspired by the art world, the company said. The combined weight of the diamonds is 29.96 carats.

They include the following:

  • Seven diamonds consisting of Argyle pink stones and yellow Diavik ones, which the company says will be accompanied by bespoke artwork.
  • An offering of 11 matched pairs of colored diamonds.
  • Thirty single diamonds, including one distinctive fancy-red Argyle diamond.

The closure of the Argyle mine in Australia and the continued strong demand for exceptional fancy pink and red diamonds means the market for Argyle pink and red diamonds “have never been stronger,” said Patrick Coppens, general manager of sales and marketing for Rio Tinto’s diamonds business.

The 48 lots will be shown in Australia, Switzerland and Belgium, with bids closing on November 20.

Source: Rapaport

Rio Tinto unveils Argyle Rose heirloom piece

Rio Tinto has unveiled the latest heirloom piece of Argyle Pink Diamonds jewellery, featuring one of the last diamonds to be mined from the iconic Argyle mine in the East Kimberley, Western Australia.

Mining ended at Argyle in November 2020, after 37 years of uninterrupted production, during which the mine became the source of about 90% of the world’s prized rose-to-magenta hued stones. The mine produced more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds.

Designed by Western Australian jeweller Solid Gold Diamonds, the Argyle Rose features a total of 3.25 carats of rare Argyle pink and blue diamonds encrusted in a rose motif, surrounded by white diamonds and hand-set in platinum and 18 karat gold.

The heart of this piece is an extremely rare 1.36 carat, Fancy Deep Pink radiant cut diamond. It is just one of twelve radiant cut diamonds over one carat with a colour grading, 1P, from the last 30 years of production from Argyle.

The surrounding petaled design of pink and blue Argyle Diamonds totals 1.89 carats, together with 2.80 carats of white diamonds. The Argyle Rose is for sale at Solid Gold Diamonds in Perth for A$2 million.

“I am delighted to launch the Argyle Rose. Encapsulating a rich history and an extraordinary provenance, it is both a contemporary treasure and an heirloom for tomorrow,” Sinead Kaufman, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Minerals said in a statement.

“These rare and precious diamonds are one and a half billion years old, from one of the most beautiful places on earth, and the world is simply not producing them anymore.”

Source: mining.com

Rio Tinto to spend $40m on Diavik diamond mine expansion

Rio Tinto is going ahead with a $40 million expansion of its iconic Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada, which will extend the operation’s life to at least early 2026.

The approved first phase of the project will expand diamond extraction underground, below the existing A21 open pit. Mining of that area, opened in 2018, recently concluded.

A second phase an additional cost will be put forward for approval in 2024, Rio said.

Phase one below A21 is slated to produce an extra 1.4 million carats, with phase two adding another 800,000 carats.

“This is good news for our employees, partners, suppliers and local communities in the Northwest Territories,” Sinead Kaufman, Rio Tinto Minerals’ chief executive, said in a statement.

Rio Tinto became in 2021 the sole owner of the operation, after buying the 40% share held until then by Dominion Diamond Mines.

The company has operated Diavik since production began in 2003. Located approximately 300 km north-east of Yellowknife, the mine employs over 1,100, of which 17% are Northern Indigenous people.

Diavik is Canada’s largest diamond mine in terms of production with between 6 and 7 million carats of rough diamonds produced each year. Since mining began in 2003 Diavik has produced over 100 million carats of diamonds.

The Northwest Territories’ two other diamond mines – Ekati, operated by Arctic Canadian Diamond and De Beers-Mountain Province’s Gahcho Kué – are expected to close in 2024 and 2028, respectively.

Diavik is about 30 km southeast of Ekati, and Gahcho Kué is 125 km southeast of Diavik.

Source: Mining.com

Rio Tinto Production to Slump as Diavik Dries Up

Diavik diamond mine
The Diavik diamond mine

Rio Tinto has forecast a sharp drop in rough-diamond output for next year as the Diavik mine edges closer to depletion.

The company expects to produce between 3 million and 3.8 million carats from the Canadian deposit in 2023, it reported at an investor seminar Wednesday. That compares with a plan of 4.5 million to 5 million carats for this year.

The decrease is a result of the exhaustion of rough supply from some of Diavik’s major mining areas, a Rio Tinto spokesperson told Rapaport News. The mine, which employs 1,100 workers, is set to close in 2025.

“We’ve completed mining at the A21 pipe, which was the latest pipe opened in 2018,” the spokesperson explained. “We’re finishing surface mining, and also one of the underground parts of the mine is done, so this is part of the plan changes. There are four areas we are mining at the moment, and next year there will be two.”

Diavik, of which Rio Tinto is the sole owner, is currently the miner’s only operational diamond site. The company’s Argyle deposit, known for its fancy-pink diamonds, closed in November 2020. Meanwhile, an exploration partnership with Star Diamond is on hold as Rio Tinto considers an exit from the project.

Source: Diamonds.net

Rio Tinto’s Unique $1.24m Midnight Sun Diamond Ring

Midnight Sun Diamond Ring
Midnight Sun Diamond Ring

Pink and yellow diamonds from two iconic Rio Tinto mines – Argyle and Diavik – have been brought together to create a unique ring.

It’s called Diavik Midnight Sun and has been valued at $1.24m.

An 18.08 carat fancy intense yellow oval diamond from Diavik, in sub-Arctic Canada, contrasts with an intricate setting of rare Argyle pink diamonds, from the now-closed mine in in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia, weighing 4.09 carats in total.

The yellow diamond was cut from a 36.75-ct rough gem, described as one of the finest large yellow diamonds uncovered at Diavik.

Rio Tinto’s general manager of sales and marketing for its diamonds business, Patrick Coppens said “This combination of a rare yellow Diavik diamond and Argyle Pink Diamonds, the rarest diamonds in the world, is a special moment in the history of Rio Tinto’s unique place in the natural fancy coloured diamond industry.

He paid tribute to luxury jeweler Musson for creating the ring. The Diavik Midnight Sun takes its inspiration from the exquisite natural phenomenon that occurs when the sun is seen at midnight in the Arctic, exhibiting beautiful golden and pink hues.

Source: IDEX