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Argyle Diamond Mine Closure: The End of a Sparkling Era

The unique geological chemistry of the Western Australia location birthed the rarest hues, including champagne, cognac, blue, violet and of course the coveted Argyle pink and red diamonds.

Pink and red diamonds are among the most special gems in the world. The value of these highly sought-after natural stones speaks for itself, but their rarity has arguably increased since the closure of Rio Tinto’s (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) Argyle mine.

The asset, which ceased mining activity on November 3, 2020, had been in operation since 1983. In that time, 865 million carats of rough diamonds were produced.

The unique geological chemistry of the Western Australia location birthed the rarest hues, including champagne, cognac, blue, violet and of course, the coveted Argyle pink and red diamonds. Millions of carats of white diamonds were produced at the prolific property as well.


After 37 years of output, Argyle’s closure came at a time of flux for the diamond market. The sector has been dealing with reduced demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as shifting demographics.

While mining activity has concluded at the source of 90 percent of the world’s pink gems, diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky noted that Rio Tinto is likely still processing ore from Argyle.

“So (Argyle) diamonds will probably still be ‘produced’ this year,” he said. “Also, Rio may have some rough inventory overhang following all of the supply chain disruptions last year. But by the end of this calendar year or early next year, I think most of the primary market Argyle rough goods will be off the market.”

Demand for pink diamonds steadily growing

Colored diamonds, especially pink and red, are among the most valued gems on Earth. Prices can range from US$10,000 per carat for less intensely colored stones up to US$70,000 per carat for vivid hues.

Ahead of the Argyle closure, pink diamond prices were on the rise. According to the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), the value of pink diamonds rose 116 percent between 2010 and 2020. That’s more than any other colored diamond segment, including the extremely rare blue diamonds.

Even 2020’s disruptions and closures didn’t dent the rosy outlook for colored stones.

“The prices of all pink diamonds overall remained without a change in Q4 2020, with fancy and fancy intense categories presenting a slight increase,” a FCRF report states. “Although 2020 was challenging in terms of logistics and travel, contrary to market expectations, fancy color diamond prices proved to be resilient, with minor price decreases across the board.”

With as much as 95 percent of global pink diamond supply now removed, there is some anticipation that prices for the gems will continue to increase, perhaps at a faster rate.

“I think there are speculators out there making that bet,” said Zimnisky. “I believe Rio will be hosting one final pink diamond tender this year; I would imagine that demand will be fairly strong.”

There is already a growing buzz around pink diamonds. Earlier this year, American rapper Lil Uzi Vert had a 10 carat pink diamond surgically implanted in his forehead. The gem, which reportedly cost US$24 million, took the singer five years to pay off.

The musician took to Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) in late January to explain the purchase. “I’ve been paying for a natural pink diamond from Elliot for years now. This one Stone cost so much I’ve been paying for it since 2017. That was the first time I saw a real natural pink diamond. A lot of M’s in my face,” he wrote.

The rapper isn’t the only person taken by the rare pink gems. Rio Tinto’s last 2020 tender saw the gems experience double-digit price growth as participants from eight countries submitted bids.

“We are delighted with the results of the 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, a testament to the unique Argyle ore body and its place in the history of the world’s most famous diamonds,” said Patrick Coppens, general manager of sales and marketing for Rio Tinto’s diamond business.

The interest has continued into 2021 as auction house Christie’s prepares to sell the Sakura diamond in Hong Kong. The centerpiece of an upcoming late May auction, the 15.8 carat Sakura stone is the world’s largest internally flawless purple-pink diamond.

The gem is expected to draw a large crowd, and sell for $195 million to $300 million Hong Kong dollars.

a large pink diamond on a white background.The Sakura diamond will be auctioned in Hong Kong on May 23, 2021. Image courtesy of Christie’s.

The heightened attention, paired with Argyle’s closure, is expected to bolster interest in the pink gems in the years to come.

“The effects of the closure of the Argyle mine will take some time,” explained fancy colored diamond analyst Yaniv Marcus. “I estimate it will take at least a year, there is another tender next year.”

He continued, “Only after that tender will we see a slowing surge in demand and price increase. For now, there are still many Argyle diamonds available.”

Reduced supply a potential diamond price catalyst

Argyle’s end of life was well publicized, spurring heightened interest in Rio Tinto’s pink diamond tenders. But Zimnisky stopped short of saying the inherent value of the mine’s gems has increased.

“It’s tough to say given how nuanced the rough market is, but it seems as if the rarest, most-desired Argyle goods have fared well in recent years,” said the diamond analyst.

For Marcus, it will take time for the mined goods to reach their full value.

“The value of the Argyle diamonds will take some time to really appreciate,” he said, referring to Rio Tinto’s December 2020 tender, which has been described as “record breaking.”

6 diamonds mined from the Argyle mine.The Argyle Pink Diamonds Signature Tender 2020 “hero collection.” Image courtesy of Rio Tinto.

“Most of the buyers of the last tender really bid high prices, and therefore will have to wait for a real surge in demand before being able to sell their inventory for a profit,” he said.

Pink diamonds aren’t the only segment that has seen growth in the diamond sector. Challenges in the first half of 2020 saw demand dwindle, but there has been a steady uptick since July 2020.

“A strong recovery in diamond demand that was first seen in the second half of 2020 has continued into 2021,” said Zimnisky. “The Chinese New Year season, an important demand catalyst for the industry, was quite good, which has in part kept a bid in diamond prices in recent weeks.”

The sector’s bounceback is indicative of investment potential, according to Marcus.

“Although the Argyle mine produced some of the rarest pinks in the world, other investment opportunities exist,” he said. “Remember that even though pinks are rare, it is all about creating financial value over time, and there are opportunities right now that make more financial sense.”

Click here for part two of this article, which will look at the other two diamond mines in Australia and what their future means for the market.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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There are many big Australian gold stocks, but these are the five top companies in the sector by market cap.

Australia is the fourth largest producer of gold worldwide, and this past year has brought ups and downs for the commodity. The precious metal hit its 2021 high point early on and fell soon after.

Lately, gold has been resting at a strong price of around US$1,800 per ounce, and it seems like it will exit the year that way. It may even be in for a serious price hike if inflationary pressures continue on their current trajectory.

Read on to learn more about Australia’s five top gold companies by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 25, 2021, using TradingView's stock screener.


1. Newcrest Mining

Market cap: AU$19.54 billion; current share price: AU$24.14

Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) operates a portfolio of gold mines across Australia, Canada and Papua New Guinea. These include its New South Wales-based Cadia mine and its Western Australia-based Telfer and Havieron mines.

In November 2021, Newcrest agreed to purchase British Columbia-based Pretium Resources (TSX:PVG,NYSE:PVG) for C$3.5 billion, marking the company’s expansion into Western Canada.

2. Kirkland Lake Gold

Market cap: AU$14.57 billion; current share price: AU$54.99

Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA) has mining operations in Australia and Canada, both of which are low-risk, gold-rich countries. The company’s Fosterville mine is based in Victoria, Australia, and as of December 31, 2018, its mineral reserves stood at 2.7 million ounces. It produced 640,467 ounces in 2020.

In September 2021, Kirkland Lake Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM), a Canadian gold miner, announced a “merger of equals." The new company will go by the name Agnico Eagle Mines, and the companies expect the transaction to close in late 2021 or early 2022.

3. AngloGold Ashanti

Market cap: AU$12.43 billion; current share price: AU$5.83

AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG) is a global gold miner formed in 2004. It has two Australia-based operations, both of which are based in Western Australia’s northeastern goldfields: Sunrise Dam and Tropicana. Sunrise Dam is 100 percent owned, while Tropicana is 70 percent owned, with the remaining 30 percent owned by Regis Resources (ASX:RRL,OTC Pink:RGRNF). In 2020, these operations produced 554,000 ounces of gold.

In Q3 2021, AngloGold Ashanti reported total gold production of 613,000 ounces at a total cash cost of US$927 per ounce. This represents a 5 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in production, though a year-to-date decrease.

4. Northern Star Resources

Market cap: AU$11.39 billion; current share price: AU$9.66

Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) is an Australian gold-mining company with projects throughout Western Australia and North America at its Kalgoorlie, Yandal and Pogo production centres. In the 2021 fiscal year, Northern Star experienced a 40 percent revenue increase and a 10 percent cash earnings hike.

In late November 2021, Northern Star announced an agreement to buy Newmont Australia’s power business for US$95 million. The company paid US$25 million for the option to purchase this business, an opportunity it was given through its recent 50 percent acquisition of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

5. Evolution Mining

Market cap: AU$7.53 billion; current share price: AU$4.12

Australian gold miner Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) has projects throughout New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as in Ontario, Canada. Evolution Mining produced 680,788 ounces of gold in the 2021 fiscal year at an all-in sustaining cost of AU$1,215 per ounce.

In 2019, Evolution Mining became one of only two Australian gold companies to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (INDEXDJX:W1SGI). In 2020 and 2021, the company made several strategic acquisitions and divestments, including its high-value purchases of the Red Lake and the Kundana operations.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

What are the largest Australian copper companies? These five ASX copper stocks are the biggest on the exchange by market cap.

Last year, pandemic restrictions forced copper mines to shut down across the world, driving down global production and causing the 10 largest copper-mining companies to suffer dramatic losses.

But in 2021, copper hit an all-time high of US$10,700 per tonne, and stayed over US$9,000 for much of the year.

The three top copper-producing countries globally are Chile, Peru and China, with Australia coming in at number six. Still, there are plenty of untapped resources in the land down under, and Australia is making a name for itself as an up-and-coming producer of this important base metal.


Read on to learn more about the top five Australian copper companies on the ASX, ranked by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 26, 2021, from TradingView.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$192.56 billion; current share price: AU$38.03

BHP (ASX:BHP) is a top global producer of copper, nickel, potash, iron ore and metallurgical coal, with copper production centralised at its South Australia-based Olympic Dam mine.

The company, whose headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia, emphasises copper’s function in renewable energy systems and the metal’s critical role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Recently, BHP has focused its attention on its energy assets. In late November, the company merged its oil and gas portfolio with Woodside Petroleum, a deal that was originally struck in August of the same year. On the mineral side of its operations, BHP was looking to acquire Noront Resources (TSXV:NOT,OTC Pink:NOSOF), a Canada-based nickel, copper, chrome and platinum company, but decided not to match a superior offer.

2. OZ Minerals 

Market cap: AU$8.77 billion; current share price: AU$25.70

OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) is a South Australia-based copper-mining company founded in 2008. Its operations include the Carrapateena project, where construction was completed in 2019, and the upcoming Malu underground mine, which was commissioned in 2015.

In a November press release, OZ Minerals reported a year-to-date 5 percent increase in group ore reserve copper metal tonnes. In its third quarter results, the company reported guidance of between 120,000 and 145,000 tonnes of copper for the year.

3. Sandfire Resources

Market cap: AU$2.59 billion; current share price: AU$6.11

Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) owns 7,189 square kilometres in the Bryah Basin region of Western Australia, including its DeGrussa and Monty operations. Both of these are 100 percent owned and produce copper and gold.

The company released its third quarter results in October, reporting total copper production of 15,946 tonnes. Sandfire expects output of between 64,000 and 68,000 tonnes of copper in 2022.

4. 29Metals

Market cap: AU$1.29 billion; current share price: AU$2.63

Australia-based mining company 29Metals (ASX:29M) has the Golden Grove mine in Western Australia and the Capricorn copper mine in Queensland, along with several promising new growth opportunities lined up. 29Metals focuses on copper production, though it also mines for zinc, gold and silver.

According to an October release from the company, production was weaker than expected at Golden Grove during the September quarter. However, the asset's quarter-on-quarter decline of about 10 percent was largely offset by a strong performance at Capricorn.

5. Copper Mountain Mining

Market cap: AU$804.96 million; current share price: AU$3.81

Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C) is a Canadian and Australian copper miner, with its flagship Copper Mountain operation in British Columbia, Canada, and its Eva and Cameron copper projects in Queensland, Australia.

In the third quarter, Copper Mountain Mining reported total output of 22.4 million pounds of copper at its Copper Mountain mine, representing a 12.1 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in production. The company still reported positive cash flow, with strong construction and exploration gains made at its Eva and Cameron projects.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.