Toronto- and London-listed Lucara Diamond Corporation, which has reported a strong third-quarter performance, has recovered a 998 ct high white clivage diamond from its wholly-owned Karowe diamond mine, in Botswana.
The diamond was recovered after primary crushing of ore that was sourced from a unit of the South Lobe deposit and follows a notable series of diamond recoveries during this recent production run, including a number of top-quality clivage and gem-quality diamonds of between 69 ct and 273 ct in weight.
The unit, EM/PK(S), of South Lobe is an important economic driver for the company’s proposed underground mine at Karowe and continues to produce large gem-quality diamonds.
The company advised in a November 10 statement that capital allocated for the underground expansion programme had been reduced to $22-million from the original $53-million budget, and that the 2020 programme objectives had been rescoped to focus on long lead time critical-path items, detailed engineering design and limited site activity focused on earthworks and geotechnical studies.
In the year to date, Karowe has produced 31 diamonds greater than 100 ct in weight, including ten diamonds greater than 200 ct, including the 549 ct Sethunya recovered in February and the latest 998 ct diamond.
In accordance with the partnership between Lucara and HB Antwerp regarding all diamonds greater than 10.8 ct produced from Karowe, both companies are evaluating the next steps to maximise the value of this rare large 998 ct diamond.
Meanwhile, Lucara generated $41.3-million of revenue in the third quarter of the year, realising a price of $365/ct from sales, including through regular tenders, through HB Antwerp’s supply agreement and the company’s online platform Clara.
CEO Eira Thomas said Clara’s customer base doubled during the quarter from 35 to 71 customers. The platform began selling diamonds on behalf of third-party sellers, meeting a significant objective for this year.
The company reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of $9.9-million in the third quarter, marking a return to a strong operating margin of 47%.
“Moving into the third quarter, Lucara was pleased to see a stabilisation of the rough diamond market and an improvement in consumer demand for polished diamonds in both Asia and the US.
“Karowe continued to perform well, delivering safe, reliable production in line with plan. In the quarter under review, we began recognising revenue from our new sales agreement with HB Antwerp, and though it is still in its infancy, Lucara is now receiving regular, predictable revenue for its +10.8 ct diamonds using a superior pricing mechanism based on estimated polished outcomes less a commission and the cost of polishing,” Thomas commented.
For diamonds smaller in size than 10.8 ct, Clara continued to deliver strong results, growing its customer base to more than 70 clients during this period and completing its first sales of third-party goods through the platform.
Clara continued to resonate strongly with manufacturers that are restricted from travelling to buy diamonds from traditional venues and the company expects to expand trials with third-party goods in the fourth quarter of the year and into 2021.
“Finally, we are delighted to have entered into a second, strategic collaboration with Louis Vuitton, the world's leading luxury brand, and HB Antwerp for the planning and polishing of the exceptional 549 ct white gem diamond referred to as "Sethunya" meaning "Flower" in Setswana.
“Sethunya is one of the highest-quality exceptional diamonds ever recovered at Karowe and we believe this partnership is a unique opportunity to showcase it to the world and, ultimately, transform it into an extraordinary, bespoke, polished diamond collection, catering exclusively to Louis Vuitton's global customer base," Thomas said.