By Michelle Graff
Lucara Diamond Corp. operates the Karowe Mine in Botswana, shown here. Normally, about 70 percent of the company’s annual revenue comes from the large, high-value diamonds it recovers from its mine, but it deferred those sales in Q2 because of market weakness. (Photo courtesy of Lucara)
Vancouver, British Columbia—Revenue fell significantly in the second quarter for Lucara Diamond Corp., as the miner opted to hold onto 10-carat-plus diamonds in light of “weakened market demand,” CEO Eira Thomas said Monday.

Lucara, which operates the Karowe Mine in Botswana, recorded total revenue of $7.5 million in Q2 2020, or $109 per carat, down from $42.5 million ($417 per carat) in the same period last year.

The miner sold 68,979 carats in Q2, down from 101,931 carats in the second quarter 2019 as, beginning in early March, it opted to sell only diamonds below 10.8 carats.

The per-carat price garnered for these smaller diamonds reflects the overall erosion in prices for rough diamonds, Lucara said.

The company recorded a net loss of $13.9 million, down from net income of $700,000 in the same period last year.

Lucara continued to operate its Karowe Mine throughout the pandemic, with the mine’s managing director, Naseem Lahri, explaining in an earlier interview with National Jeweler how she adjusted operations to ensure employees could work remotely or were social distancing.

Lucara processed 0.71 million tons of ore and recovered 101,203 carats in Q2.

This included 201 “specials” (diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats), with the miner finding nine diamonds weighing more than 100 carats and two weighing more than 200 carats.

Back in July, Lucara announced a new partnership agreement with Antwerp-based diamond cutter HB Group, the same company that is cutting Sewelô, the 1,758-carat diamond Louis Vuitton is slated to make into jewelry.

For the rest of 2020, HB Group will buy all the diamonds from Karowe that weigh more than 10.8 carats.

Under the supply agreement, the miner’s 10.8-carat-plus production will be sold at prices based on the estimated polished outcome of each diamond, which will be determined through state-of-the-art scanning and planning technology.

A true-up (match) will be paid on actual achieved polished sales, less a fee and cost of manufacturing.

As of June 30, HB Group paid Lucara a deposit of $13.5 million for a portion of the goods to be delivered under the agreement.

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