Wednesday 20th June 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘diamonds’

Paul Brockington of Margaret Lake Diamonds sees new potential in an NWT property

June 5th, 2018

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Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

May 30th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 30, 2018

As work resumes at Diagras, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA now returns to a second front in its search for Northwest Territories gems. On May 30 the company announced a new geophysics program had begun at Diagras, coinciding with a drill campaign that started earlier this month at the company’s Margaret Lake project.

Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

The Diagras agenda calls for ground gravity, magnetic and EM surveys around known kimberlites, as well as around potential kimberlites suggested by earlier geophysics.

The strategy will employ techniques that weren’t used when De Beers explored the area but have since proven successful elsewhere. Some examples include two other Lac de Gras-region projects, Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Kennady North and Peregrine Diamonds’ (TSX:PGD) Tli-Kwi-Cho DO-27/DO-18 kimberlite complex, Margaret Lake stated.

The company holds a majority interest and acts as operator on the 18,699-hectare Diagras property in a 60/40 joint venture with Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. The project sits 35 kilometres from Canada’s largest diamond producer, the Diavik mine of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond Mines.

Margaret Lake’s 100%-held, 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property lies nine kilometres north of the De Beers/Mountain Province Gahcho Kué diamond mine and two kilometres from Mountain Province’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits.

Last year’s Diagras work found “gravity and EM anomalies proximal to known magnetic kimberlites that constitute compelling drill targets,” Margaret Lake stated. Among areas of special interest is Jack Pine, one of the largest kimberlite complexes in Lac de Gras. Previous drilling has revealed diamonds, while an area of further kimberlite potential has yet to be drilled.

Additionally, gravity anomalies near the property’s Black Spruce kimberlite show similarities to other kimberlites in the region.

Meanwhile Margaret Lake has a rig testing six kimberlite targets on the company’s namesake property. Each target shows a gravity low, bedrock conductor or both. The company interprets those characteristics as potentially representing kimberlite.

Last month Margaret Lake closed a $495,500 first tranche of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

Read more about Margaret Lake Diamonds.

Diamonds are forever? Not these ones, De Beers declares

May 29th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 29, 2018

A new line of lab-grown stones to suit smaller budgets—that might seem a backward step for De Beers. This is of course the company that for so long propped up diamond prices by manipulating mine supply. It’s also the company that created modern consumer demand through legendary marketing strategies. But maybe De Beers has set out to do the opposite for synthetics, thereby sabotaging a threat to the established industry.

Diamonds are forever? Not these ones, De Beers declares

De Beers’ Lightbox subsidiary will offer “high-quality, pink,
white and blue laboratory-grown diamonds at transparent
and accessible prices.”

Such machinations might even be implied in the statement from CEO Bruce Cleaver, who twisted the company’s famous slogan to describe the company’s new brand as “affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now.”

So much for the immortality of “a diamond is forever.” And the condescension continues. Extensive research shows consumers regard synthetics “as a fun, pretty product that shouldn’t cost that much,” Cleaver added.

“After decades of R&D investment, we’re able to offer consumers a better price today. While it will be a small business compared with our core diamond business, we think the Lightbox brand will resonate with consumers and provide a new, complementary commercial opportunity for De Beers Group.”

So other purveyors of artificiality now face not only a new and formidable competitor, but one that peddles its product deprecatingly.

The company’s new Lightbox Jewelry subsidiary will source its surrogates from De Beers’ Element Six subsidiary, previously a manufacturer solely of industrial-grade synthetics. Hitting the market in September, the Lightbox stuff will sell for prices ranging from US$200 for a quarter-carat stone to US$800 for a one-carat rock, plus the cost of fitting them into fun, fashionable and affordable jewelry.

“We will introduce more designs and colours as the range evolves, and the technological efficiency of our proprietary production process means we will always offer Lightbox at accessible prices,” promised Lightbox GM Steve Coe.

Indeed, diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky recently pointed out that improved technology has driven down prices for synthetics compared to naturals. Selling a year ago for between 11% and 20% less than naturals, synthetics now cost 28% to 40% less than their mantle-made superiors, he reported.

With lab production increasing, Zimnisky added, “it seems inevitable that the price spread between lab-created and natural diamonds across all sizes and qualities will continue to widen, especially in the case of generic lab diamonds, those that are not supported by a manufacturer or retailer’s brand.”

Even so, he estimates current production of gem-quality synthetics at less than five million carats annually, compared with mine output of about 60 million carats.

The industry remains vigilant, however, for synthetics fraudulently presented as natural. Last year the Gemological Institute of America told Rapaport News of an unusually large number of fakes mixed into a parcel of naturals sent to the GIA’s Mumbai lab for analysis.

Inmates caught tunnelling below prison were miners, not escapees

May 8th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 8, 2018

Illicit diamonds and metals, often from conflict sources, plague the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral-rich reputation. But in a new twist on illegal mining, authorities have discovered a covert diamond operation run by prisoners right underneath their prison. And while the country’s notorious conflict operations often use forced labour, this mine was popular enough with its workers to retain some of them after their sentences finished.

Inmates caught tunnelling below prison were miners, not escapees

According to a UN report, the DRC’s Osio Prison was
on its way to “becoming a model of self-sustainability.”
(Photo: UN Stabilization Mission in the
Democratic Republic of Congo)

The mine was discovered under the Osio Prison in the country’s north, DRC radio Okapi reported. A raid found over 30 people, including a prison guard, working underground or toiling in their cells at mining-related tasks.

Some prisoners had refused to leave the institution after finishing their sentences. Non-prisoners built temporary homes nearby to join the operation.

Miners said they extracted and sold gems weighing between half and three-quarters of a carat.

The prison guard or a police officer involved was sentenced to 15 days, Okapi added. Others were expelled from the site.

A 2011 United Nations report described Osio as a “high-security prison that houses 191 inmates, including 30 sentenced to capital punishment, 18 to life and 143 to prison terms ranging from three to 20 years.” The UN stated the prison’s agricultural and stock-raising projects had put it “on path to becoming a model of self-sustainability.”

Some companies that have recently run afoul of the DRC government include Glencore, its majority-held Katanga Mining TSX:KAT, AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU, Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN and Rangold Resources. Among the issues are a new mining code and tax structure, along with increased national ownership.

By far the world’s largest supplier of cobalt and a major source of copper along with diamonds, zinc, tin and gold, the DRC faces political instability and possible civil war after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his term ended in November 2016.

Emulating success

May 2nd, 2018

Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

by Greg Klein

With fresh financing and a rig en route, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA has drilling about to begin on its namesake project in the Northwest Territories. As with any outfit in similar circumstances, the company’s optimism has been buoyed by the performance of an illustrious neighbour, in this case Kennady Diamonds. But more objective encouragement comes from the extensive geophysics that determined the targets for Margaret Lake’s maiden drill program. Additionally, the project operator will be the same group that helped deliver success to Kennady.

“Aurora Geosciences acts as project operator for us and also for Kennady,” points out Margaret Lake president/CEO Paul Brockington. “So we’re using the same people who have done all the Kennady work for the last six years.”

Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

Public tribute came to Yellowknife-based Aurora at Mines & Money London 2016, when Kennady co-won (with NexGen Energy TSX:NXE) the Exploration Company of the Year award. Noting that Aurora had designed and carried out all of the property’s exploration since 2012, Kennady president/CEO Rory Moore said, “Gary Vivian, [then president, now chairperson of Aurora], and Chris Hrkac, [Aurora’s] senior project manager for the Kennady North project, together with their team deserve the lion’s share of credit for the successes that Kennady has enjoyed to date. Their innovative, systematic and dedicated approach to a technically challenging project has resulted in new and unique discoveries, and earned Aurora the respect of its peers in the industry.”

A further testament to their work came just last month as Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD closed its acquisition of Kennady in an all-share deal valued at $176 million. An MOU between Mountain Province and De Beers considers incorporating Kennady North into the joint venture that comprises their Gahcho Kué mine.

The 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property sits about nine kilometres north of Gahcho Kué and two kilometres northwest of Kennady North’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits. The Gahcho Kué winter road passes through Margaret Lake.

Aurora’s participation in the project will be nothing new. The company ran the geophysics that brought Margaret Lake to the drill-ready stage and Aurora will return very shortly, this time with a rig. Financing will begin with a $495,000 first tranche that Margaret Lake closed last month, out of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

Results from airborne and ground EM, along with airborne gravity/gradiometry pioneered by BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, show six initial targets. Each features either a gravity low, a bedrock conductor or both, possibly indicating kimberlite. “Our first objective is to see if these targets represent kimberlite and, if they do, the objective then would be to get sufficient kimberlite to analyze it for microdiamonds and indicator minerals,” Brockington explains. “We’ll try to drill as much as we can before spring break-up.”

But while encouraged by his successful neighbour, he’s not basking in reflected glory. Margaret Lake is “a science project,” Brockington emphasizes. “We’re very much relying on these gravity/EM anomalies to help us deliver the goods.”

It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite. They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite.—Paul Brockington, president/CEO
of Margaret Lake Diamonds

Farther north, in the Lac de Gras field hosting the NWT’s Ekati and Diavik diamond mines, Margaret Lake also has work planned for Diagras, where the company holds a 60% stake in a JV with 40% partner Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. This property hosts 13 kimberlites found by De Beers in the 1990s. Brockington thinks there’s more to be found.

“It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite,” he says. “They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite. We’re definitely going to do more geophysics there in the next few weeks. We hope to get a ground program going to look at other areas that weren’t covered in last year’s program and I think we’ll have a number of drill targets.”

The winter road to Diavik passes through the northwest corner of the 18,699-hectare property.

Looking forward to a busy and prospective period, Brockington says, “We’ve got a lot coming up and, when you look at the activity in the diamond patch, I think we’ve got about as much as anyone.”

An Amsterdam diamond factory guide remarks on the city’s multi-faceted competition

April 11th, 2018

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Flanders to Holland and back

March 13th, 2018

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

by Greg Klein

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

A stately building belies elaborate security guarding this Antwerp diamond bourse.

 

As if providing an outer defence, a solid line of retail jewellers blocks two broad avenues from Antwerp’s famed diamond district. Access comes mainly through a side street with a police-controlled traffic barrier. More cops and soldiers (the latter attesting to Belgium’s ongoing terror alert) patrol the narrow streets inside. The only vehicles seem to be armoured vans customized for the diamond trade or the occasional bicycle carrying an Orthodox Jew with long coat and side curls flowing in the wind but magnificent hat solidly perched.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Practitioners in Belgium and the Netherlands
perfected the art of transforming rough stones into jewelry.

Except for the Portuguese synagogue, the buildings look un-Antwerpishly drab, catering to four bourses, several major companies and many more smaller operations that buy and sell stones and/or cut and polish them, as well as businesses selling tools of the trade or offering services like laser inscription removal.

Travel agents advertise flights to Mumbai and the Emirates, the Union Bank of India maintains a local branch and the neighbourhood postal outlet flogs a “one-of-a-kind diamond postage stamp.”

And there are no photos allowed, a courteous but firm police officer insists.

“But I’m a journalist from Canada.”

“I realize that, but it’s not allowed.”

“Being a journalist from Canada?”

“They don’t like it.”

“They” apparently represent the world’s diamond capital, a status Antwerp still holds for grading rough, although no longer for the art of transforming those stones into jewelry. One polishing factory, however, is DiamondLand, which welcomes visitors to its workshop before ushering them into the sales department. A guide explains that Antwerp’s seemingly ubiquitous diamond retailers cater to an international clientele attracted by prices that justify travel expenses.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Traders in 15th-century Bruges met outside
the home of Jacob van der Beurze, from
whom the word “bourse” was derived.

Yet this global diamond centre’s far from any mine. Antwerp and other cities of the Low Countries gained that peculiar stature pretty much by inventing the modern diamond industry. Just how they did that can be explained by a visit to Bruges, aka Brugge.

Those able to tear themselves away from the insufferably pretty canal-side buildings of possibly Europe’s most beautiful fairy tale surroundings could spend a few interesting hours in the city’s Diamond Museum. There, visitors learn of Venetian traders who brought diamonds to Europe from India, once the world’s only known source, eventually establishing a permanent presence in this once-important trade centre by the 15th century. That was before 16th century Portuguese and 17th century Dutch took over the Asian trade routes.

Other European cities had diamond cutters too, but it was in Bruges in 1476 that Lodewijk van Bercken is said to have invented the technique of polishing stones using a wheel, diamond dust and olive oil. His existence might owe more to legend than fact, but the technique continued, enhanced by later refinements and more recent technology.

As local waterways silted up, Bruges lost its overseas trade and the diamond industry shifted to Antwerp, which in the late 15th century became the world’s greatest trade centre overall. The industry gained new blood with migrations of Jews fleeing the Spanish in Spain, the Spanish in Portugal and, later, the Spanish in Flanders as the industry moved once again, this time to Amsterdam. Diamonds played a part in the city’s Golden Age, which flourished especially well after Amsterdammers forced the closure of Antwerp’s port. Protestants from France and Flanders joined the religious diasporas that bolstered Europe’s diamond industry.

During all that time new diamond sources were found in Borneo, Brazil, Russia and Australia, with the greatest discoveries of all in late 19th-century South Africa. That country’s first consignment of stones sparked a boom in Amsterdam, bringing unprecedented demand for cutters and polishers.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

This exacting profession continues
to draw new adherents.

Amsterdam’s decline began in the 1920s, to the advantage of Antwerp. Bruges also regained some stature as early 20th-century strikes encouraged some Antwerp companies to move their operations to job-starved West Flanders. Bruges’ on-and-off revival lasted about 61 years, Amsterdam held out with a few prominent companies but Antwerp prevailed. More recently, however, polishing has been moving to places like Tel Aviv, New York, Moscow and especially Surat, where the sector could be joined by the world’s largest diamond bourse, reportedly now under construction.

But Amsterdam, second only to Bruges for canal-side prettiness, to Vancouver for drugs and hookers, and to nowhere for massive mobs of selfie-snapping sightseers, still hosts companies offering workshop tours. Among them is Gassan Diamonds, now ensconced in a building that originally housed Boas Bros, once Europe’s largest company. Among the newer company’s achievements is the patented Gassan Cut with 121 facets.

Further factory visits make facet envy evident. One such operation is Coster Diamonds, founded in 1840 and the world’s oldest remaining diamond company. It was Coster that cut history’s most fabled stone, the Koh-i-Noor, now part of Britain’s Crown Jewels.

Crediting lengthy experience and new technology, Coster created the Royal 201 eight years ago by adding 144 facets to the more traditional brilliant cut, aka the Amsterdam cut. Coster also claims a Guinness record for the smallest polished stone ever—a tiny, tiny brilliant cut of 0.0000743 carats.

But with its 257-facet Star of Amsterdam created two years ago, Amsterdam’s Zazare Diamonds surpasses Gassan and Coster in the many-sided contest. This isn’t just a numbers game, a Zazare rep insists. “More facets mean more sparkle, more life,” she says.

But much of the industry’s sparkle and life have moved elsewhere, especially India. Numbers provided by Rapaport News show the country’s net polished exports, representing exports minus imports, climbed 3.8% to $20.71 billion last year. Belgium’s share fell 34% to $269.2 million.

Although India already hosts the world’s largest gem exchange in Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse, the Surat Diamond Bourse would far overshadow its neighbour. Construction has begun on a nine-tower complex that could accommodate more than 4,400 merchants, sources told Rapaport. Expected to be fully operational by 2021, the long-delayed proposal would be located within the government-planned Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City, confirming much of the world’s trade in the country that first found and coveted the gems.

 

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Dozens of diamond shops form a solid wall curving
along two streets outside Antwerp’s diamond district.

 

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

But not all of them thrive.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

February 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 20, 2018

As work continues on the northern Finland property, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced a new kimberlite discovery from its Timantti diamond project on February 20. Covered only by very thin glacial overburden, the find results from four one-metre-deep pits containing kimberlite. The company has christened the body Grey Wolf, distinguishing it from the property’s other Wolf kimberlites. A rig has already been mobilized to the discovery, while a 150-kilogram sample undergoes assays to test for diamonds and kimberlite indicator minerals, and to assess mineral chemistry.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

The news follows an announcement earlier this month that historic drill core confirmed the presence of a new Timantti kimberlite 230 metres west of the project’s diamondiferous Black Wolf kimberlite.

Part of an ambitious winter campaign that began in November, ongoing EM and gravity surveys have identified multiple targets for excavation or drilling. Optimism has been bolstered by “the expression of diamond-favourable indicator minerals in the region, which the Wolf kimberlites cannot explain,” the company stated.

In addition to the Finnish flagship, Arctic Star also holds diamond interests in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories’ Lac de Gras region. The company’s Cap property in British Columbia, meanwhile, hosts an exceptionally rare carbonatite-syenite complex that offers potential for several commodities. Results from sampling and one drill hole released in September showed “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate grades.

The company closed oversubscribed private placements totalling $1.69 million in November.

Read an interview with Arctic Star chairperson Patrick Power.

Matthew Vickery writes about a Bavarian city built with local stone bearing millions of tiny asteroid-created diamonds

December 27th, 2017

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The missing diamonds, the homeless hero and a media-spun Christmas fable

December 27th, 2017

by Greg Klein | December 27, 2017

This small Vancouver Island city’s best known for its eponymous Nanaimo bars, known to Canadians not as biker-infested boozers but an exquisitely sweet confection believed to have originated with 19th-century Scottish coal mining families. Just in time for Christmas, some media turned the local tale of a missing diamond ring into a concoction just as rich.

Missing diamonds, a homeless hero and a media-spun Christmas fable

An overly sweet Nanaimo concoction.
(Photo: Tourism Nanaimo)

An out-of-town visitor lost the ring, which was sitting in her change purse, when she accidentally scooped it up with some money that she offered a street guy. On realizing what happened, she made a public appeal for the ring’s return, emphasizing that the guy received it purely by accident. The Nanaimo News Bulletin reported that in a straightforward December 16 story.

On December 18 in downtown Nanaimo I was approached by a stranger who I later recognized from media photos as the guy who eventually found the ring’s recipient, obtained the missing item and returned it to the owner. The stranger asked me to make a phone call for him. I replied that I don’t have a cell phone. Nevertheless he tagged along with me, talking semi-coherently about a missing diamond ring and a TV reporter named Skye. At one point he blurted out that he’d been “clean for a day.”

I asked him if he knew the ring’s whereabouts. He shouted, “I do now!” Referring to the News Bulletin story, I said the owner asked that it be turned in to the Salvation Army. He replied, “OH YEAH?” and suddenly ran off.

The Sally Ann was a block and a half in another direction.

Later that day he met up with CHEK TV and the ring’s owner. Maybe he was surprised by the fruits of his televised altruism.

They included a “generous cash reward” from the owner, followed by other gifts that poured in after CHEK broadcast its emotively condescending account. A CHEK follow-up report encouraged more donations to be dropped off at a downtown business.

Then Canadian Press took up the story, which was relayed in a dozen or more media in Canada and internationally.

But between the CHEK broadcast and the nearly viral CP account, the News Bulletin ran another story, again avoiding emotionalism. In its straightforward manner the paper also noted that two of the ring’s diamonds “had apparently been pried from their settings and were missing.”

That detail wasn’t mentioned by the CHEK reporter who witnessed the ring’s return. CP euphemistically referred to the missing stones as “some damage to the jewelry.”

Not to worry, a jeweller—an unnamed jeweller who contacted the owner directly, not through the media—has offered to replace the gems and repair the ring for free.

For all that, the owner’s goodwill knows no bounds. She wants to track down the ring’s earlier recipient to give him a cash reward too. She spent Christmas Eve handing out money to street people and started a GoFundMe campaign to help the ring returner move out of his friend’s place and into a home of his own—“and maybe even get him a puppy to love.”