Small diamond mines under high pressure
Single-asset companies have no other assets to fall back on
The risk of being a single-mine company in a volatile commodity highly exposed to the vagaries of the global economy cannot be understated. DiamondCorp, a small mine developer, came to an unceremonious end after a string of setbacks were capped by a flooding of its underground workings at the Lace mine near Kroonstad. It had no other assets to fall back on to see it through. Another diamond company with a single asset is Gem Diamonds. It has the Letšeng mine, a fabulous opencast kimberlite mine high in the Maluti mountains of Lesotho. It is not for the lack of trying that Gem has just the one mine. It has tried in a large number of jurisdictions, but these efforts have proved fruitless and the latest setback is the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana, which it impaired by $170m in 2017. It is fair to say Gem’s track record in finding a sustainable second asset has been poor since taking over Letšeng in 2006. Gem is now treating tailings at Letšeng. But this delivered about 10% of 2018’s output...