PRODUCTION at the country’s largest diamond mine, Williamson Diamond Limited (WDL), rose by 15 per cent to 98,949 carats in the first half of the year ended December.
WDL, partly owned by South Africa’s Petra Diamond, attribute the good results to the plant throughput which increased to 2.0 million tonnes treated in first half compared to 1.5 Mt of previous year.
A statement issued on Thursday shows that offsetting the lower Run-Of-Mine (ROM) grades achieved 4.8 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) versus the expected 5.5 cpht. In first half of 2014 was 5.2 cpht.
“Williamson produces high quality diamonds and the average value of 352 US dollars was significantly higher than management guidance of 295 US dollars further to a coarser diamond size distribution,” the firm said.
The company guidance was increased for to 325 US dollars in 2015. The firm, however, says the overall production costs (cash and non-cash) increased due to a release in diamond inventory and royalties payable in line with the increased sales. “Absolute on mine cash costs increased year on year in line with the increased production,” it says.
The on-mine unit cash cost per total tonne treated of US$12 was maintained compared to first half of 2014 and remains in line with guidance.
The mine which was figured to reach its life span has been turned around by Petra and expansion plan at Williamson will see tonnage throughput ramp up to ca. 5 Mtpa from 2017, which at a grade of ca. 6.0 cpht is expected to deliver 300,000 carats per annum (ctpa). The Williamson mine is on track to exceed its production target of 3.7 Mt for 2015.
Meanwhile, Petra Diamonds profit rose 38 per cent year on year to 39.1 million US dollars during its fiscal half year that ended December 31, even as diamond prices softened.
The diamond miner noted that diamond market conditions improved in early 2015. Petra’s CEO was quoted as saying that the company expects firmer rough diamond prices in the coming months after its prices indexed on a like-for-like basis fell by 8.0 per cent to 9.0 per cent in the six months through to December.
Despite the softer market, Petra’s average prices achieved rose 18 per cent year on year to an estimated 153 US dollars per carat, boosted by two the proceeds of two exceptional diamonds sold during the period.