Canadian diamond miner Stornoway Diamond (TSX:SWY) has seen a surge in rough diamond prices at its flagship Renard mine in Quebec.
Two tenders during the second quarter of the year achieved an average price of $87 per carat compared to $81 in the first quarter, Stornoway said on Monday (August 14).
“We are particularly encouraged by the steady increase in pricing for Renard diamonds as the market familiarises itself with our production,” said company President and CEO Matt Manson.
Prices for Renard’s gems have increased by 19 percent in real terms since the first sale in November 2016. The mine reached commercial production last January.
However, Manson noted that “pricing continues to be impacted by high levels of diamond breakage, and our work to date on this issue has shown that reducing the proportion of hard, country rock waste in the ore feed will have a meaningful impact on our recoveries.”
Independent analyst Paul Zimnisky also believes Stornoway could benefit once the breakage issue at Renard has been addressed, with improvements coming in the first half of 2018.
“I think there is more upside than downside for Stornoway at this point,” he said via email.
Zimnisky has received positive feedback from diamond manufacturers that like Renard goods, and he sees the company’s customer base continuing to expand. “Both of these factors should help to improve the average price per carat at Renard going forward,” he added.
In total, 350,159 carats from Renard were sold during Q2, with proceeds coming to $32.1 million.
The rough diamond market overall has seen higher prices during the first half of the year, with prices in aggregate rising 4 to 5 percent on a like-for-like basis, Zimnisky also said.
“[But] there are some indications that excess stock is building and rough prices have been slightly weaker in July and August,” he noted.
Stornoway expects Renard, the first diamond-producing mine in Quebec, to generate about 1.6 million carats a year over an initial 14-year mine life, representing some 2 percent of global supply.
The company’s share price has been declining since January, and is down 26 percent year-to-date.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.