Burgundy Diamond Backing Out of Ellendale Mine Deal

SourcingMar 23, 2023

Burgundy Diamond Backing Out of Ellendale Mine Deal

Burgundy has opted not to exercise its option to buy the mining claims Gibb River Diamonds currently owns.

20230323_Ellendale yellows.jpg
Rough yellow diamonds from the Ellendale mine in Western Australia. Burgundy Diamond Mines Ltd. announced this week it no longer plans to buy Gibb River Diamond’s claims at the mining site, and will cease all activity there immediately.
Perth, Australia—Burgundy Diamond Mines Ltd. announced this week it is abandoning its plan to buy a portion of the Ellendale diamond mine in Western Australia. 

Burgundy signed a two-year option deed on the site with Gibb River Diamonds in March 2021. The deal called for Burgundy to acquire 100 percent of Gibb River’s Ellendale claims as well as Blina, an alluvial diamond deposit that lies just northwest of Ellendale.

On Monday, Burgundy announced it had opted not to exercise the option deed and would be ceasing development of the project immediately. 

CEO Kim Truter said the decision was in the “best interests of shareholders in line with the strategic direction of the company.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Burgundy’s decision comes just a week after the mining company announced it has entered into an agreement to buy the Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories from Arctic Canadian Holdings LLC.

The deal is valued at $136 million.

When announcing the deal, Burgundy seemed bullish on owning both mines, noting the acquisition of Ekati would make it one of the largest stock exchange-listed diamond companies in the world.

“The acquisition of Ekati is complementary to Burgundy,” Truter said at the time. “We’ve been purchasing rough fancy-colored diamonds from Ekati in recent years, then cutting and polishing them in our facilities in Perth to go into high-end jewelry designs, as part of our vertically integrated business model.”

Taking a cue from Rio Tinto and its Argyle Pink Diamond brand, Burgundy also had developed a brand for the mine’s output, Maison Mazerea.

On Monday, however, the mining company said it instead has opted to focus solely on completing the acquisition and integration of Ekati into its portfolio. 

The company declined to elaborate on its decision but did confirm to National Jeweler it will retain its cutting and polishing facility in Perth, Western Australia, which it called a “key component” of its vertically integrated business model. 

Ellendale is located in the Western Australia’s West Kimberley region, a few hundred miles west of Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine, the famous source of pink diamonds that closed in 2020.

Ellendale is known for producing fancy yellow diamonds that once supplied retailers worldwide, including Tiffany & Co.

According to a 2013 issue of Gems & Gemology, the Gemological Institute of America’s quarterly journal, the first reported findings of diamonds at Ellendale came in 1976.

The site holds a special place in diamond history, as it was there scientists discovered that olivine lamproite could serve as a host rock for diamond. (Prior to the discovery of diamonds at Ellendale, it was believed only kimberlite rock could host diamonds.)

Large-scale mining didn’t start until 2002 when Kimberley Diamonds Ltd. gained control of Ellendale.

Kimberley mined the site until closing it in 2015, citing a decline in the size and quality of the diamonds it was recovering.  

In late 2019, the Australian government awarded mining claims for the site to two companies, Gibb River and another Australian company, India Bore Diamond Holdings.

In a statement issued Monday, Gibb River said it is “very excited” about Burgundy’s decision to exit the project as it believes Ellendale has “excellent potential as a company-making standalone diamond development project.”   

The company said Executive Chairman Jim Richards recently returned from visiting the mining site and it “very much looks forward to progressing plans for the next phase of development at Ellendale.” 

Further details will be released at a later date.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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