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Lucara rakes in over P1 billion in 2019 H1

Publishing Date : 12 August, 2019

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

Canadian conceived Lucara Diamond Corporation has gathered $91.2 million, equivalent to just over P1 billion in revenue during the first half of 2019. This solely from their wholly owned Karowe Mine located in the Boteti sub district of Botswana.


The Botswana Stock Exchange listed high value, top carat diamond producer shared this in their June end Quarter 2 results issued  from Vencuvour in the wee hours of Friday morning CAT.  These revenue figures mirrors a $463 per carat for Karowe sales in the first half of 2019, yielding an operating margin of $292 per carat. In 2019, the Company held blended tenders in which diamonds recovered in the period December 2018 to April 2019 were sold in the same period, with the exception of the particularly rare stone recovered, Sewelô.


  Lucara says it has completed an initial analysis of Sewelô and is considering how best to maximize value from this unique and rare diamond. During the six months under review  a total of 196,989 carats were sold  compared  to 138,646 carats sold in the  2019 half year ,achieving a year to date average price of $463 per carat against  2018 H1 figure of $648 per carat.


The number of carats sold was 42% higher than in the comparative period, driven by better recoveries in the smaller, lower value sizes. “While still profitable, the smaller goods impact the average price per carat sold when compared to the prior year” commented Lucara Executives.Karowe Mine top brass says the significant increase in carats is also due to the continued strong performance in the plant which had record consecutive quarters of production, processing 1.48 million tonnes during H1 2019 against 1.3 million tonnes processed in 2018 H1.


“An improved mine call factor also contributed to higher recoveries of diamonds in the smaller size classes” highlighted Lucara management   in the results analysis commentary. During the 2019 first 2 quarters under review, operating expenses increased from $31.2 million in H1 2018 to $33.7 million in H1 2019, a hike Lucara says was due to a combination of an increase in the average cost per tonne mined and lower volumes of total tonnes mined. Waste tonnes mined decreased as compared to the same period in 2018 as the significant waste stripping campaign undertaken between 2017 and 2018 was substantially complete by the end of 2018.


 In addition, ore mining was stronger than expected in H1 2019 due to resource gains in the North Lobe offsetting planned waste mining. Due to the higher volume of ore mined in H1 2019, no waste stripping costs were capitalized and the strip ratio was reduced to below the life of mine average of 2.46.  Lucara says no capitalized stripping is expected during the remaining half of 2019, this is against a strip ratio of 2.84 in 2019 Guidance. On the other hand the increase in volumes processed led to a decrease in the operating expense per carat sold from $225/carat in H1 2018 to $171/carat in H1 2019.


Further commentary from Lucara Headquarters in Canada’s commercial capital, Vencuvour says Karowe’s Q2 2019 performance was underpinned by a continued, strong, stable operating environment at the 7 years old mine. On the back of record production achieved during the first quarter of the year, operations continued to deliver strong performance, with 0.8 and 1.8 million tonnes of ore and waste mined respectively, and 0.71 million tonnes of ore processed.


 “As a result, production yielded higher carat recoveries against plan and contributed to a sale of 101,931 carats during Q2 2019 which achieved an average price of $417/carat compared to the sale of 75,329 carats at an average price of $856/carat during Q2 2018,” said Eira Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer of the triple listed top carats producer. Beside BSE Lucara is also trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the Stockholm Stock Exchange known as Nasdaq Stockholm


Thomas explained that the difference in average price is due to the exceptional stone tender held in Q2 2018 for which there was no comparable sale in 2019, together with higher recoveries of small diamonds owing to plant processing improvements. The market for both rough and polished diamonds remains challenging due to an excess supply of polished diamonds and reduced credit available in the mid-stream of the supply chain. However Thomas says Lucara’s rough diamond sales during the first six months of 2019 have been consistent with expectations and in line with 2019 revenue guidance of $170 million to $200 million.


Lucara President says the largest diamond to be unearthed in Botswana’s 50+ year history and the second +1,000 carat diamond to be recovered at Karowe in just four years, Sewelô, the 1,758 carat near gem that was recovered undamaged in April, is a testament to Karowe’s remarkable geological endowment and the strong operating environment that prevails at the mine.


“During the second quarter, we continued to deliver safe, reliable, record diamond production. Having focused on operational improvements to drive performance, carat recoveries have significantly increased and costs have gone down” she said. Eira Thomas further added that impressively interest in Clara, Lucara’s online sales platform for rough diamonds, continues to increase as manufacturers look to purchase only the rough diamonds that they can use in their business, while at the same time assuring provenance of the rough diamonds purchased.


“Overall average prices achieved for our diamonds during the first half of the year have settled at $463 per carat and reflect a higher contribution of fine (smaller) diamonds, with continued strong recoveries of single diamonds larger than 10.8 carats that contribute to more than 70% of our revenues” she said. Thomas boasts that her company continues to achieve high margins for its diamonds and is actively pursuing organic growth opportunities, including Clara, its proprietary, cloud based, digital, rough diamond marketplace that continues to ramp up and has now completed a total of 7 sales since December 2018.

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