Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2017

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 59 of 99

DIAMOND MINING 58 E&MJ • SEPTEMBER 2017 Since the last occasion when E&MJ took an in-depth look at the world diamond industry (September 2011, pp.54-63), the world's diamond producers have continued the process of re- structuring that began in the early 2000s when De Beers began to relinquish its traditional role of industry custodian. In the intervening period, statistics compiled by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) indicate that producers responded in no mean way to reduced consumer demand, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic downturn, with output fluctuating with- in a fairly narrow band between 2009 and 2015, and only showing signs of picking up again last year. Significant events within the indus- try since 2011 have included De Beer's continued rationalization of its prop- erty portfolio, reducing its interests in South Africa and building new capacity in Canada. And having spent a number of years in evaluating the Bunder pros- pect in India, Rio Tinto finally decided that it was not viable and gave it away, having also spent some $2.2 billion on developing the underground section at Argyle in Australia. Winning the top spot in the produc- ers' league, Russia's Alrosa clearly has no intention of giving it up, and has consolidated its position with new ca- pacity coming on stream. But perhaps the most visible — and newsworthy — aspect of the past six years has been the regular discovery of large, high-value diamonds at mines run by a number of the new generation of producers, companies that have both picked up the discards from long-established producers such as De Beers, and have explored, financed, developed and commissioned their own new operations. E&MJ's 2011 article looked in depth at some of the back- ground to diamond resources, the history of production since India ceased to be the world's leading supplier of gem-quality stones during the 1700s, and the world's major diamond-min- ing companies in the 21 st century. In point of fact, little has changed since then — the host rocks have remained the same, the major producers have neither expanded nor contracted sig- nificantly, and history is history. There is thus little to gain by repeating what was written then, and the interested reader is directed to that article for information on those topics. Recent Production Trends Data compiled by the KPCS covering the period from 2004 to 2016 show clearly how the world diamond industry reacted to the wider economic malaise that began in 2008. Before that, consumer confidence was high, and demand for both industrial and gem-quality diamonds was good. As shown in Figure 1, the industry reached peak output of 176.7 million carats (ct) in 2005, albeit at an average value of $65.68/ct. The drop in output in 2006, 2007 and 2008, while noticeable, was minor in comparison to what happened Diamond Miners Respond Suffering from lower jewelry demand over much of the past 10 years, the world's diamond industry picked up last year, at least in volume terms By Simon Walker, European Editor The only diamond mine in Russia not in Alrosa's portfolio, Grib was developed by the oil-and-gas company, Lukoil. Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Archangel Diamond Corp.'s 15-year legal fight to win compensation from Lukoil for what the company claimed was loss of its contractual rights over Grib was at an end. Archangel went bankrupt in 2010, having invested US$30 million in the project. Figure 1—World rough diamond production, 2004-2016 (million ct). (Source: KPCS statistics)

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