Production at Mine Famous for Its Yellow Diamonds Slated To Restart
Burgundy Diamond Mines said it will begin commercial production at Ellendale before the end of 2022.
Burgundy Diamond Mines Ltd. said last week a state-of-the-art bulk sample plant has been shipped to Perth, Western Australia, from South Africa and will be transported to Ellendale for installation and commissioning by the end of the second quarter.
The company will conduct bulk sampling—the process of taking a massive sample in order to evaluate the makeup and potential worth of a mineral deposit—until Q4, with commercial production expected to kick off before the end of 2022.
Burgundy has not yet established final production forecasts, CEO Peter Ravenscroft, a former Rio Tinto executive, told National Jeweler via email, but will start production at the Blina alluvial deposit and plans to expand from there.
He said the company will cut and polish all yellow diamonds from Ellendale at its facility in Perth. The facility is built around “master craftsmen” who used to cut stones from another mine famous for its colored diamonds: Rio Tinto-owned Argyle.
Also like Argyle, Burgundy plans to create an “ultra-luxury” brand to market its yellows from Ellendale, much the same way Rio Tinto created—and kept—the Argyle Pink Diamonds brand.
The Ellendale brand is set to be unveiled in Paris in July alongside a collection of yellow diamond jewelry created by Burgundy’s first partner, Paris-based Bäumer Vendôme.
Ellendale is located in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia, about 400-500 km (250 to 310 miles) west of Argyle, which closed in November 2020 after 37 years of production.
Formerly owned by Kimberley Diamonds Ltd. and perhaps best known as the mine that supplied Tiffany & Co. with its yellows, Ellendale has been shuttered since 2015.
In late 2019, the Australian government awarded mining claims for the site to two companies, Gibb River Diamonds and another Australian company, India Bore Diamond Holdings.
Burgundy is buying the mining claims that used to belong to Gibb River Diamonds under terms of a $5 million deal reached in March 2021.
Ravenscroft said Burgundy holds the rights for the Blina alluvial deposit and “key parts” of the previous Ellendale Mine leases, including the mine pits (E9 and E4) and stockpiles, as well as the alluvial deposits to the north of E9.
In March 2021, Burgundy made an initial payment of AU$1.7 million ($1.3 million) and issued 4 million Burgundy shares to Gibb River Diamonds.
The company said last week it has made the second payment, AU$1 million ($751,000) and 5 million shares, with a final payment of AU$4 million ($3 million) and 7 million Burgundy shares due March 23, 2023.
If and when Ellendale restarts, it will be Australia’s only operational diamond mine.
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