Rockwell reports increases in volumes processed and diamonds produced but lower grades for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015

VANCOUVER, April 20, 2015 /CNW/ - Rockwell Diamonds Inc. ("Rockwell" or the "Company") (TSX: RDI; JSE: RDI) announces its quarterly production and sales update for the three months ended February 28, 2015:

Salient features

  • Volumes of gravel processed up 45% at Middle Orange River ("MOR") operations from a year ago to 0.9 million m3; Saxendrift volumes up 95% as a result of a revised mining fleet, and although Niewejaarskraal volumes increased by 57% facilitated by modifications to the in-field screen it remained below plan.
  • Carat production in MOR region up 13% due to better performance on volumes, but the grade was lower at 0.34 carats per 100m3.
  • MOR diamond sales (excluding beneficiation) up 24% year-on-year to US$10.6 million underpinned by the sale of two +120 carat stones recovered from Saxendrift. Total sales (excluding beneficiation) up 8% to US$13.1 million including goods from royalty contractor miners.
  • Average carat price up 24% from MOR properties, to US$2,461 per carat driven largely by the sale of the two +120 carat stones from Saxendrift.
  • Inventory of 1,196 carats (including royalty contract miners' inventory of 693 carats) carried over into first quarter of fiscal 2016.

Commenting on fourth quarter production and sales James Campbell, CEO and President said:

"Our Saxendrift operation performed to plan and delivering another increase in volumes processed quarter, helping to offset the impact of the lower grades. Carat production at Saxendrift increased 9% compared with Q4 2014, and included two high value +120 carat diamonds. Saxendrift recorded a 43% improvement in diamond sales to US$8.7 million. Although the volumes of gravel processed at Niewejaarskraal increased 57% with a 141% improvement in carat production, the grade remained below plan and sub-economic at current rates of plant throughput. We addressed this in the short term through transitioning mining to higher grade Rooikoppie gravels towards the end of the quarter. We are reviewing our options with the focus on increasing the throughput rates. This will entail suspension of production whilst we undertake planning to refine our understanding of the orebody and, at the same time, expand the processing capacity to 180,000m3 per month. Overall production will be impacted in the short-term as a consequence, but the financial impact will be limited as Niewejaarskraal is currently incurring operating losses."

"Meanwhile, we continue to work towards building Rockwell's longer term value through incorporating the acquisition of the Remhoogte/Holsloot Project from Bondeo 140 cc. We are working towards closure of this transaction before the end of H1. The roll-out of the integration plan will see us applying our technical skills to deliver positive returns from this early life project. Our medium term plans include exploration at Lanyonvale and large scale bulk sampling at Wouterspan, in advance of a decision to commence operations on this property."

PRODUCTION REVIEW

Volume and carat production for total Company owned properties to February 28, 2015 were as follows:


Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Volumes processed (000m3)

1,291

897

44

1,522

5,383

Carats produced (carats)

6,932

6,758

3

10,228

35,717

Grade (carats/100m3)

0.54

0.75

(28)

0.67

0.66

Additional information: Refer to Appendix 1: Detailed production data

 

  • Saxendrift: Volumes of gravel mined and processed increased by 124% and 95% respectively year-on-year, with the monthly throughput reaching 200,000m3 towards the end of the fiscal year. The performance was primarily due to the improved earthmoving fleet availability as the benefits of replacement equipment were realized. Saxendrift Hill Complex gravels, which were processed at Saxendrift from January 2015, also contributed to the increase. The increase in gravel processed was offset by lower grades (down 43%) resulting in only a 9% increase in carats produced. The average stone size improved to 5.6 carats from 4.6 carats a year ago, including five stones exceeding 50 carats, with the largest weighing 135.7 carats and 121.6 carats.
  • Saxendrift Hill Complex ("SHC"): Volumes of gravel mined and processed decreased 23% and 41% respectively, as a direct result of closing this operation at the end of December 2014. Accordingly, carat production was down 52%. Notable stones included two diamonds in the 30 to 50-carat range. The remaining SHC gravels will be processed at Saxendrift.
  • Niewejaarskraal: Throughput continued to increase, with volumes of gravel mined and processed rising 45% and 57% respectively. This was facilitated by further modifications to the in-field screen in the third quarter. Carat production also increased by 141%. Although the grade improved 52% year-on-year, it remains below plan. This was addressed with a short-term plan of mining higher grade Rooikoppie gravels but to enhance the long-term economic return potential of the project, the Company is planning on an expansion of the processing capacity of this operation to over 180,000m3 per month. In order to complete this safely, the Company will suspend activities on the Niewejaarskraal property. During this time, the Company will carry out further work to refine the geological model, which will inform a new mine plan when mining resumes. The temporary closure is not expected to have a material impact on the financial results as Niewejaarskraal is currently incurring operating losses.
  • Royalty contractor mining: The royalty mining contractors operating at Tirisano and in joint venture at Kwartelspan delivered another positive quarter, with volumes of gravel processed up 41%. However carat production was down by 4% as a result of lower grades. On March 30, 2015, the Company announced the sale of all its shares in Etruscan Diamonds, which holds the Tirisano Property, for a cash consideration of $6.3 million, with the buyers immediately taking over operations.

SALES REVIEW

Diamond sales for total Company owned-properties to February 28, 2015 were as follows:


Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Sales value (US$000's)

13,070

12,128

8

15,763

50,795

Carats sold

8,467

9,596

(12)

13,759

37,769

Average price

1,544

1,264

22

1,146

1,345

Additional information: Refer to Appendix 1: Detailed sales data

 

  • Saxendrift: Diamond sales rose 43% to US$8.7 million from the sale of 2,445 carats. Although the number of carats sold was 12% lower than the comparative period last year, this was offset by the sale of two high quality +120-carat diamonds, resulting in a 62% year-on-year increase in the average price per carat to US$3,538.
  • SHC: The number of carats sold was down 52%, in line with the decision to halt operations at the end of December 2014. Similarly, the value of sales declined 67% to $0.6 million from last year, while the average carat value was down 34% to US$1,163 per carat, due to the declining nature of the production profile.
  • Niewejaarskraal: Diamond sales increased to US$1.3 million for the quarter (up 163%). The number of carats sold rose 236%, but this was offset by a reduction in the average price per carat realized, which was 22% down at US$981 per carat.
  • Royalty mining contractors: Tirisano Contractors' sales declined 21% in carat terms whilst the average price realized per carat was down 12% to US$600. As a result, the value of sales was down 31% to US$2.5 million, of which US$0.3 million in royalties accrued to Rockwell.

Appendix 1: Volumes and carat production for the Company's owned mines and its royalty mining contractors to February 28, 2015 were as follows:

Gravel mined (000m3)         

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

673

301

124

655

2,270

SHC

159

207

(23)

332

958

NJK

335

231

45

427

1499

Total

1,167

739

58

1,414

4,727

 

Gravel processed (000m3)

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

531

273

95

487

1,882

SHC

105

179

(41)

230

676

NJK

256

163

57

266

984

Total MOR

892

615

45

983

3,543

Contractors' mining*

399

282

41

539

1,840

Grand Total

1,291

897

44

1,522

5,383

 

Carats produced (carats)

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

1,734

1,594

9

2,240

7,849

SHC

326

683

(52)

579

2,593

NJK

967

401

141

1,444

4,978

Total MOR

3,027

2,678

13

4,263

15,420

Contractors' mining*

3,905

4,080

(4)

5,965

20,297

Grand total

6,932

6,758

3

10,228

35,717

 

Average grade (cts/100m3)

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

0.33

0.58

(43)

0.46

0.42

SHC

0.31

0.38

(18)

0.25

0.38

NJK

0.38

0.25

52

0.54

0.51

Total MOR

0.34

0.44

(23)

0.43

0.44

Contractors' mining*

0.98

1.45

(32)

1.11

1.08

Grand total

0.54

0.75

(28)

0.67

0.66

 

Appendix 2: Sales for each of the Company's own mines and its royalty mining contractors to February 28, 2015 were as follows:

Sales value (US$000s)            

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

8,652

6,040

43

4,169

21,653

SHC

645

1,987

(67)

2,806

5,580

NJK

1,269

483

163

2,873

8,457

Total MOR

10,566

8,510

24

9,848

35,690

Contractors' carats**

2,504

3,618

(31)

5,915

15,105

Grand total

13,070

12,128

8

15,763

50,795

 

Carats sold (carats)               

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

2,445

2,764

(12)

2,442

8,513

SHC

555

1,153

(52)

1,166

3,013

NJK

1,294

385

236

1,805

4,958

Total MOR

4,294

4,302

0

5,413

16,484

Contractors' carats**

4,173

5,294

(21)

8,346

21,285

Grand total

8,467

9,596

(12)

13,759

37,769

 

Average price (US$ per carat)

Q4 F2015

Q4 F2014

% Change

Q3 F2015

F2015

Saxendrift

3,538

2,185

62

1,707

2,543

SHC

1,163

1,722

(34)

2,408

1,852

NJK

981

1,254

(22)

1,592

1,706

Total MOR

2,461

1,978

24

1,820

2,165

Contractors' carats**

600

684

(12)

709

710

Grand total

1,544

1,264

22

1,146

1,345


* Contractors' mining" refers to independent royalty contractors processing gravel for their own risk and reward on Rockwell owned mineral properties. Carats recovered are then sold through the Company's tender process. The Company retains the responsibility for diamond security and sales and recognize 100% of the revenue on sale. The contractual 87.5% of the sales value, payable to the contractor, is recognized as production costs in the statement of profit and loss.


** Contractors' carats" refers to independent royalty contractors processing gravel for their own risk and reward on Rockwell owned mineral properties. Carats recovered are then sold through the Company's tender process. The Company retains the responsibility for diamond security and sales and recognize 100% of the revenue on sale. The contractual 87.5% of the sales value, payable to the contractor, is recognized as production costs in the statement of profit and loss.

 

About Rockwell Diamonds:

Rockwell is engaged in the business of operating and developing alluvial diamond deposits, with a goal to become a mid-tier diamond production company. The Company's flagship mine is the Saxendrift Mine, in the Middle Orange River. It has recently built two new internally funded mines in the Middle Orange river region, namely the Saxendrift Hill Complex and the Niewejaarskraal Mine. Rockwell also has a development project and a pipeline of earlier stage properties with future development potential. The operations are based on high throughput processing capability and Saxendrift has among the lowest unit costs in the industry as a result of implementing fit for purpose technologies.

The Company is known for producing large, high quality gemstone comprising a major portion of its diamond recoveries that is enhanced through a beneficiation joint venture that enables it to participate in the profits on the sale of the polished diamonds.

Rockwell also evaluates consolidation opportunities which have the potential to expand its mineral resources and production profile and to provide accretive value to the Company.

No regulatory authority has approved or disapproved the information contained in this news release.

Forward Looking Statements

Except for statements of historical fact, this news release contains certain "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable securities law. Forward-looking information is frequently characterized by words such as "plan", "expect", "project", "intend", "believe", "anticipate", "estimate" and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions "may" or "will" occur. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include uncertainties and costs related to exploration and development activities, such as those related to determining whether mineral resources exist on a property; uncertainties related to expected production rates, timing of production and cash and total costs of production and milling; uncertainties related to the ability to obtain necessary licenses, permits, electricity, surface rights and title for development projects; operating and technical difficulties in connection with mining development activities; uncertainties related to the accuracy of our mineral resource estimates and our estimates of future production and future cash and total costs of production and diminishing quantities or grades if mineral resources; uncertainties related to unexpected judicial or regulatory procedures or changes in, and the effects of, the laws, regulations and government policies affecting our mining operations; changes in general economic conditions, the financial markets and the demand and market price for mineral commodities such as diesel fuel, steel, concrete, electricity, and other forms of energy, mining equipment, and fluctuations in exchange rates, particularly with respect to the value of the US dollar, Canadian dollar and South African Rand; changes in accounting policies and methods that we use to report our financial condition, including uncertainties associated with critical accounting assumptions and estimates; environmental issues and liabilities associated with mining and processing; geopolitical uncertainty and political and economic instability in countries in which we operate; and labour strikes, work stoppages, or other interruptions to, or difficulties in, the employment of labour in markets in which we operate our mines, or environmental hazards, industrial accidents or other events or occurrences, including third party interference that interrupt operation of our mines or development projects.

For further information on Rockwell, Investors should review Rockwell's home jurisdiction filings that are available at www.sedar.com.

SOURCE Rockwell Diamonds Inc.

For further information: on Rockwell and its operations in South Africa, please contact: James Campbell, CEO, +27 (0)83 457 3724; Stéphanie Leclercq, Investor Relations, +27 (0)83 307 7587; David Tosi, PSG Capital - JSE Sponsor, +27 (0)21 887 9602

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