Australia’s rough diamond output will decline to just 137,000 carats, from the current level of 14.2 million carats (Mct), following the expected closure of Western Australia’s Argyle mine in 2021, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Australia’s supply of rough diamonds had begun to rely entirely on the output from Argyle after the suspension of Ellendale mine in 2015, following the collapse of Kimberley Diamond Company in the same year.
Vinneth Bajaj, Senior Mining Analyst at GlobalData comments, “The Western Australian government, which has conducted rehabilitation work at the Ellendale mine, is now seeking for a new operator to re-start mining activities. However, with no immediate potential to replace even part of the output of the Argyle mine, the country’s production of rough diamonds will fall to less than 1% of the current levels from 2021, with all output solely from Merlin Diamonds Ltd’s Merlin mine, which achieved full production during the third quarter of 2018.”
Several mining companies, including Lucapa Diamond Company Ltd, Merlin Diamonds, Auteco Minerals, GeoCrystal and Legend International, are currently conducting exploration activities to identify potential deposits. For example, exploration at Lucapa’s Brooking project, which is in close proximity to the abandoned Ellendale mine, has demonstrated outstanding results. The initial drilling resulted in the recovery of over 1,200 micro-and macro-diamonds from a collective 265kg sample collected from two different holes drilled.
Bajaj added, “In the short term, there are no projects lined up that could replace even part of the output from the Argyle mine. However, there are positive signs that the Australian diamond industry could be revived.”