De Beers Q3 rough diamond production down 14 %
By Aubrey Lute
De Beers’ rough diamond production for the third quarter of 2019 has decreased by 14 per cent to 7.4 million carats, a production report from the mining giant released today has revealed. According to the global diamond miner this was due to planned reductions in South Africa and Canada.
The continued downward trajectories in the global rough diamond market has also suppressed production guidelines “we continue to produce to weaker market demand due to macro-economic uncertainty as well as continued midstream weakness” states De Beers Directors in the report.
In Botswana where De Beers operates 4 mines under the bracket of Debswana, a 50-50 partnership with Government of Botswana production closed the quarter with flat figures at 5.7 million carats. Orapa Mine which encompasses 2 other small operations in Letlhakane and Damtshaa realized an upswing in production as figures jumped by 22 per cent due to a planned increase in the grade of material treated.
However this was offset by low output at the Prince of Mines, Jwaneng where production declined by 18 per cent due to planned lower grade. Jwaneng produces top gem diamonds, and the mine alone accounts for more that 70 % of Debswana revenues. It is considered the world’s richest diamond mine by value.
OTHER DE BEERS OPERATIONS
In Namibia through Namdeb Holdings , another 50-50 partnership with host Government (Namibia) , production decreased by seven per cent to 0.4 million carats, as the Elizabeth Bay land operations were placed on care and maintenance in Q4 2018. In Namibia De Beers through Namdeb Holdings operates inland mining operation and a marine diamond recovery through DebMarine in the Namibian coast of Atlantic Ocean.
De Beers Consolidated Mines in South Africa registered major production downswing as output declined by 60 per cent to 0.5 million carats due to lower mined volumes at Venetia Mine. Venetia Mines is fast approaching its transition from open pit to an underground operation.
Another contributory factor to the subdued output in South Africa was Voorspoed which its production ended in Q4 2018 when it was placed on care and maintenance in preparation for closure. Across oceans in Canada, Production decreased by 34 per cent to 0.8 million carats primarily due to the closure of Victor Mine which reached the end of its life in Q2 2019.
ROUGH DIAMOND SALES
During Quarter 3 of 2019, De Beers rough diamond sales amounted to 7.4 million carats, 7.1 million carats on a consolidated basis from three sales cycles, which compares to 5.0 million carats of sales, 4.6 million carats on a consolidated basis from two sales cycles in Q3 2018.
These mirriors rough diamond sales volumes were therefore higher due to an additional sales cycle in the period compared with the previous year. De Beers however underscored in the production report that overall demand for rough diamonds remains subdued as a result of challenges in the midstream with higher polished inventories and caution due to macro-economic uncertainty.
In July this year De Beers announced that it has decreased its rough diamond production in Q2 by 14% to 7.7 million carats and revised its full-year guidance downwards to ~31 million carats in response to a backlog of polished diamond inventories in the midstream and weaker trading conditions. In addition to declines in production, the average prices De Beers achieved for their rough diamonds fell by 7% to US$151/carat during 1st half of 2019 compared to US$162/carat 2018 H1 figure, this was driven by a 4% reduction in the average rough price index and a change in the sales mix in response to weaker conditions.
De Beers’s rough diamond sales were also very slow in August (cycle 7) the provisional revenues at the seventh sight of 2019 totaled to $280 million. This was significantly lower than the $503 million sold at Sight 7 2018 by 44 %. Cycle 6 was also low; it registered the lowest amount earned from a sale since December 2015 at $250 million. The company says production guidance will remain unchanged at ~31 million carats, subject to trading conditions.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.
The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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