Rockwell Diamonds has announced its quarterly production and sales update for the three months ended February 28, 2015.

Volumes of gravel processed up 45% at Middle Orange River (MOR) operations from a year ago to 0.9 million m3; Saxendrift volumes up 95% as a result of a revised mining fleet, and although Niewejaarskraal volumes increased by 57% facilitated by modifications to the in-field screen it remained below plan

The company reported that carat production in MOR region was up 13% due to better performance on volumes, but the grade was lower at 0.34 carats per 100m3.

MOR diamond sales was up 24% year-on-year to US$10.6 million underpinned by the sale of two +120 carat stones recovered from Saxendrift. Total sales (excluding beneficiation) up 8% to US$13.1 million including goods from royalty contractor miners. Average carat price up 24% from MOR properties, to US$2,461 per carat driven largely by the sale of the two +120 carat stones from Saxendrift with inventory of 1,196 carats (including royalty contract miners’ inventory of 693 carats) carried over into first quarter of fiscal 2016.

James Campbell, CEO and President said:

“Our Saxendrift operation performed to plan and delivering another increase in volumes processed quarter, helping to offset the impact of the lower grades. Carat production at Saxendrift increased 9% compared with Q4 2014, and included two high value +120 carat diamonds. Saxendrift recorded a 43% improvement in diamond sales to US$8.7 million. Although the volumes of gravel processed at Niewejaarskraal increased 57% with a 141% improvement in carat production, the grade remained below plan and sub-economic at current rates of plant throughput. We addressed this in the short term through transitioning mining to higher grade Rooikoppie gravels towards the end of the quarter. We are reviewing our options with the focus on increasing the throughput rates. This will entail suspension of production whilst we undertake planning to refine our understanding of the orebody and, at the same time, expand the processing capacity to 180,000m3 per month. Overall production will be impacted in the short-term as a consequence, but the financial impact will be limited as Niewejaarskraal is currently incurring operating losses.”

“Meanwhile, we continue to work towards building Rockwell’s longer term value through incorporating the acquisition of the Remhoogte/Holsloot Project from Bondeo 140 cc. We are working towards closure of this transaction before the end of H1. The roll-out of the integration plan will see us applying our technical skills to deliver positive returns from this early life project. Our medium term plans include exploration at Lanyonvale and large scale bulk sampling at Wouterspan, in advance of a decision to commence operations on this property.