BRCDiamondCore (TSX: BRD) is lifting its skirt to reveal the company's progress in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after months of compulsory silence following the merger of BRC Diamond Corporation and DiamondCore Resources.
Speaking informally in Kimberley, non-executive chairman of BRCDiamondCore Simon Village, used the metaphor to say the organisation would now tell the world about its finds and activities after the company share price dropped as a result of little newsflow over the last few months.
BRCDiamondCore is looking forward to full scale production at its Silverstreams alluvial project on the bank of the Orange River in South Africa in the fourth quarter of this year.
The project that sold 327.76 carats at an average price of $1,476 per carat in March and 688.26 carats at $1,446 per carat in February in its current bulk sampling phase, is close to conceptual stage that will lead to full mining in the fourth quarter.
Chief operating officer Danie van der Merwe said about 90% of exploration and bulk sampling has been done on the Silverstreams resource of 35mt and the company expects to produce three times the current level of 79,000t of ore a month by the fourth quarter.
BRCDiamondCore will release expected carat production numbers once the last 10% of work on the ore body has been completed, but it is clear that the company has high expectations from the project comprising 5 square kilometers of riverbed.
The project has delivered big stones of more than 50 carats and statistics show larger finds are due by the end of the year, a management member said.
Village elaborated that the team in South Africa tackled the project in a unique way of considering factors such as gravel and challenges and developing mining technology to optimise recoveries.
When the company starts fully-fledged mining here, one will see the difference in efficiencies, recoveries and hopefully profitability, he said. Operating costs at Silverstreams of $3-$4/t will also decrease when production volumes increase, while most of the capital equipment for full scale production has been bought already.
Chief financial officer Craig Campbell said there was quick payback on capital investment in case of projects such as Silverstreams, the company's drilling machine was a case in point as it was paid for in three months.
BRCDiamondCore has a number of other alluvial projects around the Orange River, separating the Northern Cape province from the Free State and North West provinces, including Uitdraai and De Kalk, two projects that have just entered trial mining phase and Muishoek and Sanddrift, in the exploration and drilling phases respectively.
The first leg of the company's business model of an earnings bed or near-term cashflow made up of alluvial diamond production is supported by its kimberlite operations of which Paardeberg near Kimberley is the most advanced at trial mining stage.
The first kimberlite of six on the Paardeberg East property is currently undergoing modelling to determine the economics of the pit. Van der Merwe said if the company board gave the go-ahead for mining here at the end of June, full-blown mining on the first kimberlite would start in months.
The (PK1) kimberlite has produced diamonds to the value of $212/ct in its sampling phase and delivered 50% gem content, which is described as high. It is also the proud source of a 45.86 carat dark orange-brown stone the company will prepare for sale itself.
BRCDiamondCore is currently evaluating the fifth kimberlite in its systematic bulk sampling exercise and reports fantastic prices from its diamonds sales of $300/ct - high prices for kimberlite sourced diamonds.
This particular kimberlite (PK5) is producing 20,000-30,000cts annually through its sampling plant, while production is expected to increase once the plant is optimised for full production.
BRCDiamondCore has a variety of kimberlite assets in South Africa, including the Skeyfontein and Sanddrift (alluvial and kimberlite) projects in the drilling phase, but it is very focused on its kimberlite assets in the DRC where it hopes to find explosive growth in the form of a new kimberlite diamond mine.
The company is very excited about its Tshikapa project, located in a region west of Kinshasa that has delivered 100m carats from alluvials, while not one kimberlite has been found in this tough, but feasible area. It is currently exploring at Tshikapa where 44 fabulous magnetic anomalies have been identified and drilling is set to start here.
Dr. Mike de Wit, BRCDiamondCore president and perhaps the company's greatest asset as he is renowned as former top geologist at De Beers, said he believed the company was in the right area to find a new mine as the abundance of alluvials in the area could signify a yet undiscovered kimberlite source.
The company's Kwango River alluvial project is progressing as 12mt of resources have been identified by exploring eight terraces, while there are still fifteen terraces to explore. The terrace surface area comprises 150 square kilometers and compares well to the five square kilometers of riverbed at Silverstreams in South Africa.
Construction of the sampling plant at Kwango is 90% complete and bulk sampling is due to start in the fourth quarter of this year, followed by trial mining kicking off in the fourth quarter of 2009.
BRCDiamondCore holds 47,700 square kilometers of land in the DRC, which is responsible for 25% of the world's 4.5bn carats of diamond production to date. It is working through the ground at pace and focusing on the positive results, including 61 kimberlite targets that have been defined on 29,200 square kilometers already.
Put in the metaphoric words of Village: We are all scotch men wearing skirts, and it is looking beautiful down there.