Africa-focused Firestone Diamonds (LON:FDI) became
Thursday one of the few precious stones miners to remain afloat amid lingering market
weakness, particularly for smaller, lower-value diamonds.
The company posted annual production within guidance, following a “solid” fourth-quarter during which it recovered 208,572 carats, 34% more than in the previous three months of the year.
The miner dug up 829,458 carats in the fiscal year ended
June from Liqhobong, in Lesotho, which is its only operating mine. While
the figure was within Firestone’s 820,000 to 870,000 carats forecast, it was 0.8%
lower than in the previous year.
Firestone also found a 22-carat white makeable rock and an
11-carat fancy light-pink diamond.
“Makeable” diamonds are those whose shape allows to cut one
large diamond from it. In contrast, “sawable” stones can be cut
in half in order to create two smaller diamonds.
For 2020, Firestone expects diamond recoveries to be between
820,000 and 870,000 carats, with ore tonnes treated between 3.6 million and 3.8
million tonnes. In financial 2019, it mined 3.7 million tonnes, which was within
guidance but below the 3.8 million tonnes it recovered a year prior.
“From a market and pricing perspective, it was a tough financial year, particularly for the smaller, lower-value goods and these conditions are expected to persist for the rest of 2019 and possibly improving during 2020 when global rough supply is expected to reduce,” chief executive, Paul Bosma, said in a statement.
Over the past 18 months, diamond miners have had a hard time
as demand for roughs remains affected by market volatility and ongoing trade
tensions between China and the US.
Polished diamond demand, as well as midstream rough diamond sales,
have also been impacted on by retail store closures and destocking in the US.
Last week, South Africa’s Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL), owner of the iconic Cullinan mine, said it anticipated that next year’s production would be lower due to ongoing market weakness. Earlier this month, the world’s biggest miner of precious stones, De Beers, also reported an output drop and cut guidance for the year.