Rockwell Diamonds Inc. reports that for the first quarter of fiscal 2013, ending May 31, 2012, volumes of gravel processed increased 56 percent year over year, with a 74 percent improvement in carat production from its three operational mines to 6,116 carats.
According to the mid-tier diamond miner, overall volumes processed continued to track closer to the company's internal targets while budgeted carat recoveries were exceeded.
"In 2011, our executive management and board put in place two simultaneous strategies for enhancing shareholder value, namely to execute on our plans to optimize production at each of our operational mines and to rebuild the mine life profile of the Company's assets. The results to date are showing the first positive impacts of these strategies," says Rockwell Chief Executive Officer James Campbell.
Rockwell's Saxendrift mine, in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, achieved a 39 percent year-over-year increase in volumes processed to 453,204 m3 for the first quarter of fiscal 2013, in line with its targets, while carats produced increased 26 percent to 2,126 carats.
The mine's bulk x-ray plant was commissioned in April 2012 below budget and on schedule. A total of 1,118 carats were extracted from recovery tailings during the first six weeks of operation of this proof of concept project, with the largest stone recovered weighing 74 carats, notes Rockwell. The next phase of testing is progressing with the processing of additional recovery tailings.
The in-field screen, commissioned in November 2011, increased plant throughput during the first quarter. In addition, it went some way to mitigate the impact of increased sand content of the ore bodies being mined.
Rockwell reports that improving production from Rockwell's properties that are located adjacent to the Saxendrift Mine is now the company's focus. This includes the additional resources acquired as part of the Jasper Project purchase, which became unconditional at the end of May 2012. Plans are also in progress to evaluate the potential of extending mining operations to other parts of the Saxendrift mine property with the objective of extending the life of this operational footprint.
The pre-feasibility study for Wouterspan, which is located on the north bank of the Middle Orange River and adjacent to Saxendrift, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012, has commenced and is scheduled for completion by year end.
A ramp up in production at Rockwell's Tirisano mine in South Africa's Northwest Province continues, with plant throughput volumes increasing by 30 percent to 123,048 m3 in the first quarter, from 94,643 m3 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012.
Carat production more than doubled during the three months to May 31, 2012, yielding 1,222 carats compared to 557 carats in the previous three-month period. This was a result of grade increases to 0.99 carats/100 m3, from 0.59 carats/100 m3 in the quarter ended February 29, 2012, reports Rockwell.
Construction of the wet front end facility, which has the capability to process gravels with high clay content, was completed on schedule at the end of May 2012 and is expected to provide additional flexibility in the mine plan that was previously lacking.
Maintenance and rationalization of the earthmoving fleet has been a key focus this past quarter.
At Klipdam, located 45 kilometers from Kimberley, South Africa, Rockwell experienced a year-over-year increase of 20 percent in plant throughput to 232,216 m3 . This was due to the conversion to continuous operations, installing a new barrel screen and the removal of five conveyor belts in the front end of the production plant, notes the miner.
Carat production increased 51 percent with improved grades as a result of the focus on processing the Rooikoppie gravels. The value per carat was in line with the previous quarter due to current world markets, reports Rockwell. Additionally, the appointment of a mine manager and mining manager has significantly improved the overall operation of the mine.