Diamonds

Exploration, mines and marketing

George H. Read*, A. J A (B ) Janse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The beauty, value and mystique of exceptional quality diamonds such as the 603 carat Lesotho Promise, recovered from the Letseng Mine in 2006, help to drive a multi-billion dollar diamond exploration, mining and marketing industry that operates in some 45 countries across the globe. Five countries, Botswana, Russia, Canada, South Africa and Angola account for 83% by value and 65% by weight of annual diamond production, which is mainly produced by four major companies, De Beers, Alrosa, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton (BHPB), which together account for 78% by value and 72% by weight of annual diamond production for 2007. During the last twelve years 16 new diamond mines commenced production and 4 re-opened. In addition, 11 projects are in advanced evaluation and may begin operations within the next five years. Exploration for diamondiferous kimberlites was still energetic up to the last quarter of 2008 with most work carried out in Canada, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Botswana. Many kimberlites were discovered but no new economic deposits were outlined as a result of this work, except for the discovery and possible development of the Bunder project by Rio Tinto in India. Exploration methods have benefitted greatly from improved techniques of high resolution geophysical aerial surveying, new research into the geochemistry of indicator minerals and further insights into the formation of diamonds and the relation to tectonic/structural events in the crust and mantle. Recent trends in diamond marketing indicate that prices for rough diamonds and polished goods were still rising up to the last quarter of 2008 and subsequently abruptly sank in line with the worldwide financial crisis. Most analysts predict that prices will rise again in the long term as the gap between supply and demand will widen because no new economic diamond discoveries have been made recently. The disparity between high rough and polished prices and low share prices of publicly traded diamond companies may be due to investors losing patience with the slow pace or absence of new promising discoveries and switching into shares of base metals and fertilizers for agriculture (potash and phosphates).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalLithos
Volume112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Advanced projects
  • Annual production
  • Diamond
  • Exploration methods
  • Marketing
  • Mines

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