Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Lucara reports lower earnings in Q2:2023 

Lucara Diamond Corp has reported another lower earnings quarter, with revenue suppressed by weaker diamond prices and a planned change in product mix, the company said in the financial results for the second quarter of the year. 

Revenues dropped to $41.1 million, down from the first quarter revenue of $42.8 million, and much lower than 2022’s second quarter revenue of $52.3 million. With revenue down, Lucara’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to $15.7 million, compared with EBITDA of $24.4 million in the second quarter of 2022. Net income also decreased to $5 million, lower than 2022’s second quarter net income of $12.5 million. 

The company said the longer-term outlook for natural diamond prices remains positive, anchored on improving fundamentals around supply and demand as many of the world’s largest mines reach their natural end of life over the next decade. Following on the record high diamond prices achieved in early 2022, a softer diamond market emerged in the latter half of 2022 which has persisted into the second quarter of 2023 as a result of global economic concerns combined with geopolitical uncertainty, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

“Prices continued to show signs of stabilization, however, as China continues to open-up post-Covid. Sales of lab-grown diamonds increased during the period. Intense competition combined with improvements in technology continue to drive prices of lab grown diamonds down,” said the company. 

“This further differentiates this market segment from the natural diamond market and highlights the unique nature and inherent rarity of natural diamonds. The longer-term market fundamentals remain unchanged and positive, pointing to strong price growth over the next few years as demand is expected to outstrip future supply, which is now declining globally.”

Lucara which is planning to turn the open-pit Karowe mine to an underground mine to access the highest value portion of the ore-body. The underground expansion is expected to extend mine life to at least 2040 and is forecast to contribute approximately $4 billion in additional revenues using conservative diamond price assumptions which are unescalated and exclude exceptional stone revenues.

Last month, Lucara released an update to the Karowe underground project schedule and budget, revealing a 28 percent increase in the duration of construction, extending the anticipated commencement of production from the underground from the second half of 2026 to the first half of 2028. The revised forecast of costs at completion is $683 million (including contingency), a 25 percent increase to the May 2022 estimated capital cost of $547 million. 

“Karowe delivered another solid quarter against plan in the second quarter and as we returned to mining in the south lobe, the proportion of specials (diamonds greater than 10.8 carats) increased and has so far included the recovery of 13 stones over 100 carats that will be polished and sold in the latter half of the year,” said Eira Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Lucara.

“The rebased schedule and budget will delay production from the underground and has increased costs by approximately 25 percent, however, sufficient surface stockpiles ensure that the mill will operate to capacity during this period and the project remains economically robust. The expansion continues to have the support of our largest shareholder.”

On a bright spot, On Wednesday Lucara announced the recovery of a 1,080ct Type IIa diamond at Karowe – the fourth diamond weighing more than 1,000ct to be recovered at the mine since 2015.

The other three 1,000-ct-plus diamonds recovered at Karowe include the 1,758ct Sewelô, recovered in 2019; a 1,174ct diamond recovered in 2021; and the 1,109ct Lesedi La Rona, recovered in 2015.

“As we progress mining deeper in the open-pit and transition to underground mining, exclusively in the South Lobe, the preponderance of large, high-value stones is increasing, consistent with the resource model and underpins the strong economic rationale for investing in the underground expansion that will extend the mine life out to at least 2040,” said Thomas.

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