Total revenue for De Beers decreased by 4% to $3.1 billion (H1 2016: $3.3 billion), driven by lower rough diamond revenue – as expected, given the benefit of strong midstream restocking in H1 2016.
The company’s Interim Financial Results for 2017 reflects that the average realised rough diamond price decreased by 12% to $156/carat (H1 2016: $177/carat), partially offset by a 7% increase in consolidated sales volumes to 18.4 million carats (H1 2016: 17.2 million carats). “This reflected stronger demand for lower-value goods in Q1 2017 following a recovery from the initial impact of India’s demonetisation programme in late 2016. The lower-value mix was compensated in part by a higher average rough price index, which was 4% higher when compared with H1 2016,” the company states.
Underlying EBITDA increased by 3% to $786 million (H1 2016: $766 million), primarily attributable to savings resulting from the closure of Snap Lake and a continued efficiency drive across the group. Furthermore, efficiencies contributed to a 3% decrease in unit costs despite unfavourable exchange rates and an increasing proportion of waste mining costs being expensed rather than capitalised (due to declining strip ratio) at Venetia in South Africa. In addition, underlying EBITDA benefited from a stronger contribution from Element Six.
A statement from the company detailing the half year results indicates that preliminary consumer demand data for diamond jewellery for the start of 2017 showed continued growth in the US and slight improvements in China in local currency. In India, retailer sentiment improved due to a return to more normal trading conditions following the government's demonetisation programme. “Underlying US results reflected the broader changes in consumer behaviour affecting the overall US retail environment, with growth in the independent jewellers’ sector contrasting with some weakness from large chains.
Sentiment in the midstream remains positive following a reasonable Q4 2016 retail season, with evidence of Chinese retailers restocking and demonetisation in India having less impact than anticipated. This has supported good demand for De Beers’ rough diamonds. Spot polished prices remained broadly flat in H1 2017.”
Rough diamond production increased by 21% to 16.1 million carats (H1 2016: 13.3 million carats), in line with the higher production forecast for 2017, reflecting stable trading conditions as well as the contribution from the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué in Canada. Debswana increased production by 6% to 11.1 million carats (H1 2016: 10.5 million carats). Production at Orapa increased by 22%, driven by the ramp-up of Plant 1, following its having been on partial care and maintenance in response to trading conditions in late 2015, together with higher grades. This was marginally offset by Jwaneng, where production decreased 6% owing to lower grades. First ore from Jwaneng Cut-8 was extracted and processed in June 2017. Cut-8 will become Jwaneng’s main source of ore from 2018.
At Namdeb Holdings, production increased by 17% to 0.9 million carats (H1 2016: 0.7 million carats), mainly due to production recovering following Debmarine Namibia’s Mafuta vessel having been on extended planned in-port maintenance in Q2 2016. Debmarine Namibia’s new exploration and sampling vessel, the SS Nujoma, was officially inaugurated in June 2017 and is now fully operational.
In South Africa, production increased by 43% to 2.5 million carats (H1 2016: 1.8 million carats) as a consequence of higher grades at Venetia. Construction of the Venetia Underground mine continues to progress, with the underground operation expected to become the mine’s principal source of ore from 2023. In June 2017, the annual section 74 export levy exemption for DBCM was renewed until March 2018.
In Canada, production increased to 1.6 million carats (H1 2016: 0.3 million carats) due to the ramping up of Gahcho Kué, which entered commercial production on 2 March 2017. Production at Victor increased by 21% to 0.4 million carats as a result of higher grades. At Snap Lake, flooding of the mine, which commenced in January 2017, is now complete, thereby minimising holding costs while preserving the long-term viability of the orebody. At Element Six, revenue and earnings improved following a modest upturn in oil and gas industry demand relative to the first half of 2016. This was offset partially by weaker demand for abrasive materials for road and mining applications.
Macro-economic conditions underpinning consumer demand for polished diamonds globally remain supportive of marginal demand growth in 2017. The extent of global growth, however, will be dependent upon a number of macro-economic factors, including the effect of US and China government policies on exchange-rate movements. Correspondingly, midstream demand for rough diamonds is expected to depend on the strength of different markets’ restocking requirements. Forecast diamond production (on a 100% basis) for 2017 remains unchanged and is expected to be in the range of 31-33 million carats, subject to trading conditions.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.