Lucapa acquires Merlin diamond project in Australia

Merlin diamond mine in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Lucapa Diamond announced that it has entered into a binding asset sale agreement for the acquisition of a 24km2 mining lease and a 283km2 exploration tenement encompassing the mining lease and associated equipment and assets the Merlin Assets from Merlin Operations Pty.

Merlin Operations is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merlin Diamonds Limited, which is in liquidation. The Merlin Tenements are located in the Northern Territory of Australia, approximately 720km southeast of Darwin.

Merlin is home to Australia’s largest mined rough diamond on record and has the potential to be the
only producing diamond mine in Australia, following the closure of Rio Tinto’s iconic Argyle mine in 2020, after 37 years in production.

The strategic acquisition is supported by a A$20 million ($15.5m) private placement plus a share purchase plan to raise up to A$3 million ($2.3m).

The acquisition price of A$8.5m cash represents a ~A$2/ carat multiple on Merlin’s existing 4.4m
carat JORC compliant resource and complements Lucapa’s existing portfolio, the company said, adding a near-term development opportunity with an existing 4.4m carat mineral resource estimate in Australia to Lucapa’s two existing producing assets in Angola and Lesotho.

The ~300km2 tenement package also comes with significant exploration upside, Lucapa said, through over 70 unresolved anomalies in areas where all kimberlite discoveries have been diamondiferous.


Lucapa finds massive white diamond at Mothae

215-carat diamond

Lucapa Diamond Company has recovered a 215-carat diamond from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho, Africa.

The discovery is the largest Type IIa D-colour white diamond recovered through the 1.1 million tonnes a year Mothae plant since mining operations commenced in January 2019.

The stone is also the second 200-carat-plus and fifth 100-carat-plus diamond recovered through the plant.

Lucapa managing director Stephen Wetherall said the continued recovery of large diamonds at Mothae validated its recent investment decision to expand capacity at the mine.

The company plans to expand Mothae’s processing capacity by around 45 per cent to 1.6 million tonnes a year.

This is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2021.

“Lucapa has now produced 23 (100-carat-plus) diamonds, four of which are greater than 200 carats (across the two mines) and we, together with the (Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho) as mine partner in Lesotho and Endiama and Rosas & Petalas as mine partners in Angola, look forward to many more such exceptional mining recoveries,” Wetherall said.

The Lesotho Government holds a 30 per cent stake in the Mothae mine, with Lucapa holding the remaining 70 per cent.

Source: Australian mining

Lucara recovers 998Carat Rough Diamond

998 carat rough diamond

The Karowe mine has produced a 998-carat diamond, the latest in a string of large rough stones from the lucrative deposit in Botswana.

Lucara Diamond Corp., which owns Karowe, will work with manufacturing partner HB Antwerp to assess how to maximize value from the rough, the miner said Wednesday. The unbroken, high-white, clivage stone — meaning it needs to be split before further processing — came from the EM/PK(S) unit of the site’s south lobe, which has yielded some of the world’s biggest and most famous diamonds.

“Lucara is extremely pleased with the continued recovery of large, high-quality diamonds from the south lobe of the Karowe mine,” said CEO Eira Thomas. “To recover two [500-carat-plus] diamonds in 10 months, along with the many other high-quality diamonds across all the size ranges, is a testament to the unique aspect of the resource at Karowe and the mine’s ability to recover these large and rare diamonds.”

The EM/PK(S) area produced the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona in 2015, as well as the 1,758-carat Sewelô, which HB bought in January this year in collaboration with luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

The Belgian manufacturer later agreed to purchase all of Lucara’s rough above 10.8 carats for the remainder of the year. Last week, Lucara announced the sale of a 549-carat diamond from the same high-value patch of Karowe, with HB and Louis Vuitton again partnering on the stone.

The arrangement with HB prevented a heavier decline in Lucara’s sales in the third quarter, the first period in which income from the partnership started appearing in the miner’s top line.

Group revenue fell 9% year on year to $41.3 million in the three months ending September 30, reflecting Lucara’s decision not to hold its usual tenders of stones above 10.8 carats, the company reported Wednesday. Instead, it sold 5,633 carats through the HB partnership, with sales taking place approximately twice a month, while the miner’s online selling platform, Clara, boosted sales of smaller goods.

Total sales volume fell 3% to 112,943 carats, with the average price down 6% to $365 per carat. The company’s net loss deepened by 35% to $5.4 million.

“Lucara is now receiving regular, predictable revenue for its [10.8-carat-plus] diamonds using a superior pricing mechanism based on estimated polished outcomes less a commission and the cost of polishing,” Thomas added.


IGI Grades Record Black Lab-Grown Diamond

The two black lab-grown diamonds.

The International Gemological Institute (IGI) recently graded a 116-carat, black synthetic diamond that ranks as the largest lab-grown diamond of its color.

The 115.65-carat, type IIb stone was produced by UK-based Meylor Global using High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT), and was accompanied by a second black lab-grown diamond weighing 109.58 carats, IGI said Wednesday.

“The innovative approach in physical chemistry of diamond growth, combined with sophisticated technological methods and advanced high-pressure equipment, allowed us to obtain record-breaking extra-large diamond single crystals, having in mind the idea of getting the biggest possible diamond plate,” said Meylor CEO Yuliya Kusher.

Meylor grew the diamonds as part of its “World’s Largest Black Diamonds Project,” which it began at the beginning of the year. However, it intends to try for a larger one in the future. The larger stone holds the Guinness World Record for its category, IGI reported.

“The significant milestone of [over 100 carats] in diamond size was achieved by our company in a very short time, and the next even more promising target of [over 200 carats] is right now under deep scientific investigation,” Kusher added.


Lucapa’s sale fresh sign of diamond market recovery

3,862 carats of Lulo diamonds

Australia’s Lucapa Diamond and its partners in Angola have sold $5.6 million worth of diamonds from the Lulo mine at their latest event, a fresh sign that the market is slowly improving.

The miner, Angola’s national diamond company (Endiama) and Rosas & Petalas sold 3,862 carats at an average price of $1,450 per carat. The figure took total sales of diamonds recovered so far this year at Lulo mine to 16,128 carats and $21.3 million.

“As foreshadowed, the strong operational performance and record diamond recoveries at Lulo in July and August, together with a recovering diamond demand positively impacting prices, should bode well for Lulo in H2 2020,” Lucapa’s managing director Stephen Wetherall said.

Global demand for all types of diamonds fell between 2018 and 2019, affecting small stones producers the most, due to an oversupply in that segment that dragged prices down.

Increasing demand for synthetic diamonds also weighed on prices. Man-made stones require less investment than mined ones and can offer more attractive margins.

Just when the market seemed to have bottomed out, it was hit in March by the coronavirus pandemic. Its rapid spread forced some mine shutdowns and limited mobility of potential buyers, painting a bleak picture for even the largest diamond miners.

Conditions since have improved and De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, was the first major producer to come out with good news. It said earlier this month it had made about three times as much in sales of roughs in the seventh sales cycle of the year as it did in the previous event.

The Anglo American unit, which sells diamonds to a handpicked group of about 80 buyers 10 times a year at events called sights, sold $320 million worth of rough diamonds in the seventh cycle. That compares to the $116 million fetched in the previous sight and is not far behind the $400 million De Beers sold on average each month last year.

Angola’s diamond push
Lucapa’s improved sale also come in the midst of Angola’s fresh attempts to boost its local industry. The West African nation is the world’s fifth diamond producer by value and no.6 by volume.

According to official figures, however, only 40% of Angola’s kimberlite has been discovered.

The country’s industry, which began a century ago under Portuguese colonial rule, is successfully being liberalized.

Last year, Angola held its first public diamond auction and since then, producers no longer have to sell at below-market prices to a handful of buyers favoured by the state.

Endiama revealed in February it was seeking international partners in an attempt to place Angola among the world’s top-three diamond producers.

The country currently has 14 diamond mining projects, with the largest being the Catoca mine, which produces 61% of the country’s output.

Catoca is also the world’s fourth-largest diamond mine in the world. It is owned by a consortium of international mining interests, including Endiama, and Russia’s Alrosa.


Petra Diamonds sells Botswana exploration assets

Petra Diamonds

Petra Diamonds (PDL.L) has agreed to sell its Botswanan exploration assets to Botswana Diamonds (BODP.L) for $300,000 and a 5% royalty on future revenue, the diamond miner, which is in the process of restructuring, said on Monday.

The purchase price will be payable in two equal instalments on or before August 31, 2021 and August 31, 2022, Petra said. Botswana Diamonds has the option to buy out the royalty for $2 million in cash.

Petra’s subsidiary Sekaka Diamonds Exploration (Pty) Limited, which Botswana Diamonds would take over, holds three prospecting licences including the KX36 project, which has an indicated resource of 17.9 million tonnes at 35 carats per hundred tonnes.

Botswana Diamonds managing director James Campbell said KX36 would be the company’s most advanced project in southern Africa, and Sekaka’s exploration database would also be “hugely complementary” to its current activities.

Petra, which has been planning to sell Sekaka since June 2018, said the deal is separate to the sales process it announced last month as part of its restructuring.

“The first tranche of the purchase consideration is not expected to be received until August 2021, making the sale too long-dated to help with Petra’s immediate cash flow challenges,” said BMO analyst Edward Sterck.

The sale still requires approval from the Botswana Competition Commission, ministerial consent in Botswana, and approval from Petra’s lenders and debtholders.

Campbell said he hopes the deal will be sealed by August 31.

Russia’s Alrosa says diamonds sales at $559.5 million in March

Alrosa Rough Diamonds

Russia’s diamond miner Alrosa said on Tuesday that its sales of rough and polished diamonds totaled $559.5 million in March.

There was a slight seasonal cooling off in demand in March,” Alrosa Deputy CEO Yury Okoemov said, according to a company statement.

Alrosa’s total diamond sales in the first quarter 2018 amounted to $1.606 billion, the company said.