Rockwell Diamonds production drops 33%

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James+Campbell+XXX+high+resMINER Rockwell Diamonds said on Thursday in a first-quarter production update that diamond production overall was 33% lower at 4,824 carats.

The company said the decrease in carat production was mainly the result of the operations at the Tirisano mine in the North West being placed on care and maintenance in December.

Also causing the cutback was the sale of the Klipdam mine near Kimberley at the end of March.

Rockwell sold Klipdam, a small, noncore mine, and brought royalty miners onto its Tirisano mine.

The production and carat recovery of the Saxendrift mine was consistent, including the recovery of nine stones exceeding 20 carats, the group said.

The royalty mining contractors operating at the Tirisano property gained momentum with the production of 1,984 carats and the first diamonds were also recovered from the newly commissioned Saxendrift Hill Complex during the quarter.

Rockwell has five royalty-paying mining contracts agreed at Tirisano, with three of those in operation and two contracts coming into operation during the second week of next month, Mr Campbell said.

The contractor planned to build a treatment plant with capacity of 100,000m³. This would double the amount of alluvial gravel being treated by royalty miners at Tirisano. These mining companies paid a 12.5% royalty on diamonds sold.

CEO James Campbell said Rockwell would continue to improve its performance later in the financial year. The group planned to make at least one transaction this year.

“Rockwell’s operational performance for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 reflects the transition of the company as we have narrowed our focus on growing the production profile, from specific footprints that deliver better efficiencies and greater economies of scale. Our first such footprint is the Middle Orange River region,” he said.

Rockwell’s Saxendrift mine had been subsidising its struggling Tirisano and Klipdam mines, but this would end soon Mr Campbell said.

Diamond production at its Niewejaarskraal mine was expected to begin within three months.

“We are positioned to have three producing mines in the Middle Orange River region by the end of the calendar year,” Mr Campbell said.

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