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    Argyle diamond set to fetch millions

    Stuart McKinnonThe West Australian
    Tuesday, 23 April 2019 3:17PM
    Stuart McKinnon
    Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques with the Argyle Octavia.
    Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques with the Argyle Octavia.

    This rare sparkler may be worth millions but its discovery at Argyle in the Kimberley won’t be enough to stop the mine’s closure next year.

    Mine operator Rio Tinto says the Argyle Octavia is one of the biggest gem-quality white diamonds found at the mine over its 35-year history.

    The 28.84-carat rock was recovered from the east Kimberley mine last month.

    Argyle Diamonds general manager Andrew Wilson said the Argyle Octavia was unique in its size, shape and provenance and would take its place in history as one of a few special large white diamonds ever to be produced from the mine.

    The stone will be sold by private tender at the world’s diamond capital, Antwerp in Belgium, later this year.

    Collectors, jewellers and traders will be invited to place confidential bids, with the rough diamond going to the highest bidder.

    The rock is expected to attract strong bidding given only about 20 similar stones have been recovered from Argyle and the mine’s imminent closure means it will be considered a legacy piece.

    Its rare and beautiful octahedral shape is also likely to attract a strong premium compared to similar gems.

    Alluvial diamond mining started at Argyle in 1983, moving to an open pit operation between 1985 and 2013, followed by an underground operation from 2013 using a block cave method of mining.

    But there is no economic case for continuing mining at even deeper levels past 2020.

    Rio will seek to redeploy the more than 450 staff and contractors at the mine to its other operations as the mine winds down.

    Some staff will remain to help with the rehabilitation of the site, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollar over several decades.

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    Diamond hunt on again
    Chris McLennanChris McLennan
    Local News

    The Merlin diamond mine near Borroloola may be the northern tip on a vast east coast treasure trove.

    Geologists have unearthed evidence which suggests the NT and Queensland may be sitting on a treasure trove of rare minerals.

    Speaking on Sunday at the Queensland Museum’s Mineral Heritage display, Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Diamantina Minerals Province could be Queensland’s next frontier of resource exploration and investment.

    The Merlin mine came to fame several years ago as the home of Australia’s biggest diamond find, a 104 carat monster.

    The mine is located about 100km south of Borroloola.

    It was an open-pit operation from 1998 to 2003 having produced 507,000 carats of diamonds.

    Merlin Diamonds Pty Ltd, formerly North Australian Diamonds, acquired the project from the Rio Tinto Group in 2004.

    The mine is still producing big diamonds, a 35.26 carat diamond was found there in January.

    The company completed a fund raising of $5.5 million in March this year.

    Speaking Sunday at the Queensland Museum’s Mineral Heritage display, Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Diamantina Minerals Province could be Queensland’s next frontier of resource exploration and investment.

    Experts from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines’ and the University of Queensland have uncovered evidence of platinum and gold as well as Rare Earth Elements used in advanced technologies from hybrid vehicle batteries to super-conducting magnets.

    “This may be a whole new frontier for Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.

    “Beyond the potential economic boost for Queensland, the discovery brings a new understanding of mineral potential in a previously under-explored area.”

    The discovery covers an area from the copper, gold and platinum-rich Fifield in central New South Wales, through Queensland’s north west country and up to the Merlin diamond mine in the Northern Territory, where one of Australia’s largest diamonds was discovered.

    UQ’s Emeritus Professor Ken Collerson and DNRM geologists uncovered the potential resource when they discovered extremely rare geological pipe structures south west of Mount Isa and near the Northern Territory border.

    The rare pipes originate from very deep within the earth, when pulses of mineral-rich material are forced to the earth’s crust.

    LONG STRETCH: The Diamantina Minerals province stretches diagonally from northern NSW, north west Queensland and into NT.
    LONG STRETCH: The Diamantina Minerals province stretches diagonally from northern NSW, north west Queensland and into NT.

    These pipes have previously only been found in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Finland, but the Queensland ones could be up to six kilometres in diameter.

    Minerals likely to be in the pipes include scandium, cobalt, nickel, copper, light and heavy rare earth elements, yttrium, niobium, hafnium, zirconium, tantalum, phosphorus, silver, gold and platinum group elements, as well as potential for diamonds.

    The REEs are a group of chemical elements that exhibit a range of special or unique properties which are used in many modern and “green” technologies.

    “The type of minerals found in the geological pipes are in high demand around the world, particularly in the development of cutting edge technology,” Dr Lynham said.

    “Advanced technologies such as fuel cells (scandium), mobile phones (tantalum), super-conducting magnets (niobium) and hybrid vehicle batteries (cobalt) all rely on access to the minerals we believe are here.

    “An opportunity exists for the right type of company to maximise this detailed geological information and take it to the next step commercially.”

    Predictions of REE demand and supply outside China show that several elements are likely to be in critically short supply in the next 10–15 years. Global REE production is estimated at 112,500 tonnes, with an economic value of $4–6 billion. However technologies that rely on these elements are worth many trillions of dollars.

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  3. 29.0k
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    dont write the old dog off yet,,, not dead at all

  4. 439
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    😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  5. 29.0k
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    Argyle revenues soar to decade high as mine closure nears
    Peter Ker
    Resources reporter
    May 6, 2019 — 12.00am

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    Argyle revenues soar to decade high as mine closure nears
    Peter Ker
    Resources reporter
    May 6, 2019 — 12.00am

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    Rio Tinto's fading Argyle diamond mine looks set to go out on a high, after posting its best financial performance in years.

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    Argyle revenues soar to decade high as mine closure nears
    Peter Ker
    Resources reporter
    May 6, 2019 — 12.00am

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    Rio Tinto's fading Argyle diamond mine looks set to go out on a high, after posting its best financial performance in years.

    Rio boss Jean Sebastien Jacques inspects stones from the Argyle mine in WA. Dominic Lorrimer

    Diamond markets are notoriously opaque, and Argyle's performance cannot be gleaned through the financial results Rio reports every six months.

    But new filings with the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission (ASIC) reveal revenues at Argyle, which is scheduled to close in 2020, surged to their highest levels in a decade in 2018.

    The $370.6 million of revenue generated was 26 per cent higher than in 2017 and was the highest revenue reported by Argyle since 2008.

    The improved financial performance was not constrained to revenue; the $148.4 million of cash flow from operations was virtually double the 2017 result, almost quadruple the 2016 result and the best since 2015.

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    The revenue and cash flow surge came, perversely, in a year when Argyle processed 10 per cent more ore than in 2017, but produced 18 per cent fewer diamonds; a situation that normally implies higher unit costs and poorer financial performance.

    It is understood the big increase in revenue was driven by higher sales volumes in 2018 compared to previous years.

    Revenue was also boosted by a stronger US currency and improving prices for the pink diamonds Argyle produces, which are tipped to enjoy greater scarcity value as the mine's closure draws near.

    Higher diamond sales in a year when Argyle's diamond production slumped highlights the sort of opacity that makes diamond markets difficult for investors to predict.

    Diamond production likely to be lower
    While Argyle's closure in 2020 appears certain, it is unclear whether Rio has built a sufficient war chest of pink diamonds to continue its annual pink diamond tender beyond the end of the mine's life.

    Rio keeps diamond pricing confidential, but within the past year the company's diamond boss, Arnaud Soirat, has pointed to recent public auctions in which Argyle pink diamonds sold for more than $US1 million per carat.

    Argyle's revenue and cash flow surge belied the $128.6 million loss before tax that was reported to ASIC last week by the Rio subsidiary that owns the mine.

    That loss was heavily influenced by a $145.4 million non-cash expense related to the closure of the mine.

    Diamond production at Argyle looks set to be lower again in 2019 if the first quarter is any guide; production in the three months to March 31 was 22 per cent lower than in the same period of 2019, and 13 per cent lower than in the final three months of 2018.

    The rare insight to Argyle's financial performance comes as Rio directors and executive management fly into Western Australia this week for the company's annual meeting of Australian shareholders on Thursday.

    Chairman Simon Thompson has urged shareholders to vote against a resolution put forward by climate campaigners, which would compel Rio to set targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The resolution explicitly calls for reduction targets linked to scope 3 emissions; the emissions generated by the companies Rio sells its products to.

    Such a target would include Asian steelmakers, which create significant emissions when they blend Rio's flagship product, Australian iron ore, with coking coal to make steel.

    Mr Thompson has argued that emissions generated by such customers are beyond the control of Rio, and therefore the company cannot set such targets.

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    PINK DIAMONDS OUTPERFORM YELLOW AND BLUE STONES IN Q1
    The Pink category in all saturation and sizes increased 0.5%. led by large diamonds

    הדפס
    8.05.2019World
    Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender
    Credit: Rio Tinto
    The Fancy Color Diamond Index for Q1 2019, published by the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), shows that the overall colored diamond prices decreased by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2019, influenced by a decrease in the Yellow category.

    FANCY COLORED
    Credit: IDI

    While the Pink category in all saturation and sizes increased 0.5%, the 3 and 5 carat Vivid Pink categories increased by an average of 3.1%. According to the FCRF, the rest of the categories showed no change quarter-over-quarter.

    In the Blue category, the Fancy Blues rose 3.4%, Fancy Vivid Blue 1.5 carat category increased 1.3%, and 1-carat Fancy Intense Blue rose 3.9%. However, the overall Blue segment decreased by 0.2% on average. The Yellow category fell 1.5%, despite a 1.2% rise in the 1-carat category in Fancy Yellow.

    Blue diamond ring Graff
    Credit: Christie’s

    All in all, compared to Q1 2018, the Fancy Color Diamond Index presents an increase in Blue Diamonds by 2.8% and in Pink Diamonds by 0.6%, and a decrease in the price of Yellow Diamonds by 3.5%.

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