by Greg Klein | March 15, 2017
Provenance sometimes sways the price of diamond jewelry, so whenever possible sellers will emphasize an esteemed previous owner. But one man’s selling a stone he insists was worn by Satan herself.
She’s his ex.
The rock was mounted on her engagement ring, which he offered after three years of courtship. Only then did her true identity reveal itself. As he explains, her “rage, it boiled, her eyes glazed over and her head span 360 degrees on a daily basis and she spewed venomous insults toward my aching heart.”
Possibly after breaking an especially big mirror, he endured seven years before walking out. “Now I’m happy,” he declares.
Offering no details on colour, clarity or cut, the seller simply describes the item as one-quarter carat on a gold ring, “size fat.” He does provide this disclaimer: “Although worn by Satan herself it does not possess any magical powers or any black magic. Cannot guarantee it’s 100% safe to be worn by those of faith.”
He adds: “Serious offers only.”
Past ownership by royalty, aristocrats or celebrities can enhance a diamond’s value. Last May the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue broke auction records with a $58.25-million price possibly influenced by its association with De Beers bigshot Sir Philip Oppenheimer. The previous month, however, a 9.54-carat stone associated with a phenomenally famous actor-turned-diplomat disappointed auctioneers. Having hoped for $25 million to $35 million, Sotheby’s rejected a $22-million bid for the Shirley Temple Blue diamond.
by Greg Klein | March 7, 2017
Roughly 170 crow-flying kilometres southeast of Thompson, prospectors’ perseverance has paid off in Manitoba’s first-ever diamond discovery. Making the announcement at PDAC on March 6, provincial minister of growth, enterprise and trade Cliff Cullen couldn’t resist mentioning Manitoba’s #2 worldwide ranking in the latest Fraser Institute survey of mining jurisdictions, up from #19 the previous year.
“The world’s mining sector is taking notice of Manitoba’s mineral resource potential and our business and investment-friendly environment,” he said. “Our government is very pleased by these recent developments and will continue to create the welcoming conditions necessary for the attraction of investment in our mineral resources.”
The Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association credits the discovery—of microdiamonds, but in bedrock—to three of its members, Mark Fedikow, John Lee and Harold Westdal, along with Robin Day of Alberta and the Manitoba Geological Survey, “especially Scott Anderson.” The four prospectors call themselves the Lynx Consortium.
Ruth Bezys, Manitoba PDA president and Fedikow’s wife, told the Winnipeg Free Press the consortium will likely option their claim to a company with more financial resources.
Mining contributes about $1.5 billion or 2.7% to Manitoba’s GDP, sustaining about 3,200 jobs, Cullen told the conference.
by Greg Klein | January 19, 2017
Fable and fiction have often associated King Solomon’s mines with diamonds or gold. But Israeli archeologists say they’ve gained a new perspective on a 10th century BC site that produced the critical element of its time—copper.
An ancient smelting facility in southern Israel’s Timna Valley was discovered in 1934 but recent excavations have revealed a military fortification, shedding new light on long-distance trade and wars fought over a strategic metal.
“While there is no explicit description of ‘King Solomon’s mines’ in the Old Testament, there are references to military conflicts between Israel and the Edomites in the Arava Valley,” said archeologist Erez Ben-Yosef in a statement from Tel Aviv University. “According to the Bible, David travelled hundreds of miles outside of Jerusalem and engaged in military conflict in the desert—striking down ‘18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.’ Now, having found evidence of defensive measures—a sophisticated fortification—we understand what must have been at stake for him in this remote region: copper.”
The reddish metal “was a rare product and very challenging to produce,” he continued. “Because copper—like oil today, perhaps—was the most coveted commodity, it landed at the very heart of military conflicts. The discovery of the fortification indicates a period of serious instability and military threats at that time in the region.”
Focus of ongoing study by Tel Aviv University, the Timna Valley hosts a number of ancient smelting operations and thousands of mine shafts.
“The historical accuracy of the Old Testament accounts is debated, but archaeology can no longer be used to contradict them,” Ben-Yosef added. “On the contrary, our new discoveries are in complete accordance with the description of military conflicts against a hierarchical and centralized society located south of the Dead Sea.”
by Greg Klein | January 17, 2017
A previously acquired property gets new attention as Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD applies for a drill permit to search for niobium, tantalum and rare earth elements in central British Columbia.
Field work during 2010 on the 2,825-hectare CAP project found 481 to 981 parts per million niobium, 1,125 to 3,191 ppm zirconium, over 100 ppm lanthanum, over 100 ppm cerium and over 50 ppm neodymium. Two historic, non-43-101 samples returned strongly anomalous results of 0.13% and 0.1% rare earth elements, the company stated.
A circular magnetic anomaly of about three to five kilometres’ diameter could indicate a carbonatite or similar intrusion at depth, Arctic Star added. “Carbonatite-related deposits are a major host for rare metals, such as niobium and tantalum, and rare earth elements.”
Located about 80 kilometres from Prince George, CAP can be reached by logging roads during the summer and helicopter year-round.
In December the company closed a second tranche of financings totalling $1.47 million, including $300,000 of flow-through earmarked for CAP.
In November Arctic Star announced a JV with Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA on their newly compiled Diagras property in the Northwest Territories’ diamondiferous Lac de Gras region.
by Greg Klein | December 22, 2016
The stones began the year still mired in their 2015 slump, in which rough prices reportedly fell 15%. The two biggest players, representing nearly two-thirds of global production, didn’t exactly agree on strategy. De Beers cut production and lowered prices while Alrosa initially boosted production, held prices stable and stockpiled some output. By April De Beers raised prices and Alrosa lowered production. The following month had De Beers talking about a “fragile recovery.”
Sales records for polished got pulverized, though. In May Sotheby’s raked in $32 million for the 15.38-carat Unique Pink in a jewelry sale that totalled a world record $175.1 million. The next day Christie’s scooped up $58.25 million for the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.”
Rough rode roughshod over records, too. The week before Sotheby’s and Christie’s big sales, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC got $63.11 million for its fresh-from-the-mine 812.77-carat Constellation. High expectations led to disappointment in late June, however, when the company rejected a $61-million offer for its 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough stone, the second-biggest diamond ever found. Lucara wanted at least $70 million.
As for Canadian diamond mining, it thrived.
A 100-million-carat production milestone brought celebrations to Diavik, the Northwest Territories JV of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC. In July Dominion finally decided to add the Jay pipe and its 78.6 million carats to the company’s majority-held Ekati mine.
The year brought new mines to Canada too. Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond producer in 13 years, was officially opened in September by partners De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV. October saw Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY do the same at Renard, Quebec’s first diamond mine. It reached commercial production just days before Christmas.
Looking at potential mines-to-be, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD took its Chidliak project on Baffin Island to PEA in July. In Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne region, meanwhile, Shore Gold TSX:SGF continued working on a feasibility update for its majority-held Star-Orion South project. Back in the NWT, Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI completed its maiden resource in December.
The company’s Kennady North project sits in the same Lac de Gras region hosting Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué. November marked the 25th anniversary of the Chuck Fipke/Stewart Blusson Ekati discovery that triggered the world’s biggest staking rush, brought diamond mining to Canada and helped transform the diamond industry.
In December the vertically integrated company Almod Diamonds announced plans to broaden the NWT diamond industry, the backbone of the territorial economy, by re-opening a Yellowknife cutting and polishing facility.
A few days after that announcement, the allure of diamonds played out differently in an Atlanta department store. Eighty-six-year-old Doris Payne, a determined, unrepentant and often unsuccessful diamond thief, wracked up another arrest. She’s been stealing stones for over sixty years.
by Greg Klein | December 14, 2016
It’s “quite possibly a record timeframe in the history of Canadian diamond exploration,” according to Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI president/CEO Rory Moore. One of several small dykes discovered by the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV in 2000, the Kelvin kimberlite wasn’t drilled until 2012. By that time Mountain Province, preoccupied with the adjacent Gahcho Kué, had created Kennady to investigate the neighbouring turf. On December 12 the spinout released Kelvin’s resource, the first such estimate for the 71,000-hectare Kennady North property.
Using a one-millimetre bottom cutoff, the all-indicated resource shows 8.5 million tonnes averaging 1.6 carats per tonne for 13.62 million carats of diamonds. Average value comes to $63 per carat.
The deposit extends to a depth of 510 metres, with about 85% within a potential open pit to 330 metres’ depth and the rest a possible underground mine.
It’s been a productive four years and five months since Kennady first put rigs to work. The resource considered 175 holes totalling 40,041 metres, microdiamond samples totalling 20.23 tonnes. a mini-bulk sample of 44.8 tonnes and two more bulk samples totalling 1,067 tonnes. The bulk samples gave up 2,262 carats for valuation.
Announced last month, Antwerp’s verdict—actually two separate valuations that arrived at the same amount—came to an average $52 per carat. But Kennady emphasized the lopsided values of bigger diamonds, including a 2.84-carat stone valued at $2,640 per carat.
Moore pointed to a “similar trend” at Gahcho Kué, five kilometres away. “The five highest-value Kelvin diamonds represent 1% of the sample weight but 20% of the total value. This trend is a key determinant of overall value.”
A PEA’s now scheduled for late 2017 and would incorporate resource estimates to come from the Faraday 2 and 3 kimberlites, which will undergo bulk sampling this winter. Kennady also plans geophysics over 4,233 hectares acquired in August just south of Gahcho Kué. The company will consider exploration drilling following the bulk samples.
Earlier this month Kennady, along with Athabasca Basin uranium standout NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, shared the 2016 Exploration Company of the Year award at Mines and Money London.
by Greg Klein | December 7, 2016
An additional 66,047 hectares brings Dunnedin Ventures’ (TSXV:DVI) Kahuna property to around 1,200 square kilometres, the company announced December 7. Acquired by staking, the ground now holds over 100 interpreted kimberlite targets, half of them already under scrutiny for diamond indicator minerals from till sampling. Drilling has confirmed 10 diamond-bearing dykes.
Till sampling has found anomalous gold in five metasedimentary belts, while drilling has found gold in an extension of the Aqpik and Aklak gold showings on Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) adjacent, advanced-stage Meliadine project, Dunnedin stated. An all-season road links Meliadine with the Hudson Bay hamlet of Rankin Inlet.
Last month Dunnedin announced plans to spin out its non-diamond assets to a new company.
Kahuna has a 2015 inferred resource for near-surface deposits on the Notch and Kahuna dykes, 12 kilometres apart:
Both kimberlites remain open along strike and at depth.
Since then, an 820-kilogram sample from the property’s PST dyke revealed 526 diamonds. Ninety-six surpassed the commercial size of 0.85 millimetres, totalling 5.34 carats. A 2.32-tonne sample from Notch showed 85 commercial-sized stones totalling 1.95 carats.
While processing material from 1,100 till samples collected last summer, Dunnedin anticipates a 2017 program of drilling to test potential extensions of the resources, compile a 1,000-carat parcel for evaluation in Antwerp and try new targets identified by indicator minerals.
by Greg Klein | December 2, 2016
India’s sudden ban on 500- and 1,000-rupee notes early last month has suspended at least some operations in the northwestern city of Surat, the world capital of diamond cutting and polishing. Various sources credit the city with transforming approximately 80% of the globe’s rough into jewelry. India is also the world’s third-largest consumer of diamond-ensconced bling.
NDTV reports businesses closing as the lack of cash prevents them from buying rough and paying employees. The government ordered citizens to deposit the notes, worth about $9.77 and $19.54 Canadian, and conduct transactions electronically.
Governments that have limited the use of cash have cited the need to combat terrorism, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting, tax evasion and the underground economy. Rapaport News stated India’s underground economy constituted 23.2% of GDP, according to 2007 data in the latest World Bank survey.
Only about 30% of Surat’s diamond cutters have bank accounts, NDTV added.
“This industry has been working on an illegal mode of payment in cash until now and to shift to a cashless system will take at least four to six months,” one business owner told the news outlet. But he stated the government decree will eventually benefit merchants and workers. Another source said he expects the suspension to last at least one and a half months.
The two denominations reportedly accounted for 85% or 86% of Indian money in circulation. “The liquidity freeze could influence a global slowdown in demand for lower colour and clarity polished, and in very small melee stones,” Rapaport stated.
Following the first tender of Quebec diamonds in Antwerp last month, Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY president/CEO Matt Manson attributed India’s demonetization to reduced prices and demand for smaller and lower-quality stones. He said some were removed from the event, to be sold later.
India’s government plans to issue new denominations of 500 and 2,000 rupees. But, NDTV reported December 2, an enormous hoard of contraband seized from a group of low-paid government employees included 57 million rupees (in Canuck terms, over $1.11 million) in so-far uncirculated 2,000-rupee notes.