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     Latest News: Rockwell Diamonds Inc. ROCKWELL [RDI]
     Wed, 14 Jan 2015 Official Announcement [CC] 
    Rockwell delivers revenue increase
    Rockwell delivers revenue increase and lower operating costs in Q3 due to higher volumes processed but lower grades lead to rationalization of Saxendrift Hill Complex and focus on Niewejaarskraal expansion ahead of acquisition of contiguous MOR alluvial diamond assets, expected to close in April 2015

    Salient features
    • The operating result is reflective of a difficult quarter due to the low incidence of large diamonds across all our operations. Average diamond prices realized from Company owned operations declined 35%.
    • The tenth successive quarter of USD-denominated gross diamond revenue growth up 59% to CAD18.9 million with rough diamond sales up 55% as a result of a 127% improvement in carat sales.
    • Cost reduction initiatives continued, resulting in a reduction of 15% in consolidated average cash operating costs for the Middle Orange River (“MOR”) operations to USD11.5 per cubic metre, the main drivers being increased volumes mined (up 60%) and processed (up 29%).
    • The announced transaction to acquire certain alluvial diamond properties and associated plant and equipment contiguous to Rockwell’s existing properties will extend the current operating and resource base and allow additional rationalization of plant and equipment to lift the overall volumes processed to above the targeted 500 000m3 in the MOR. The assets in question comprise early life mines that are in production and capable of being enhanced by Rockwell’s management team to deliver immediate operational and financial benefits.
    • Focus is on expanding the Niewejaarskraal mine throughput to ensure profitability.
    • The remaining resource at Saxendrift Hill Complex (“SHC”) will be processed through the Saxendrift infrastructure and the processing plant and equipment be utilized as part of the ongoing drive to further optimize the MOR resources. The result will increase the Company’s throughput.

    Financial review:
    • Revenue: Gross diamond revenues increased for the tenth successive quarter, to CAD18.9 million including beneficiation revenue. Rough diamond sales increased 55% to CAD17.5 million, led by a 127% improvement in carat sales to 13 759 carats. The 35% decline in average carat price from Company owned properties is due to the lower incidence of large diamonds recovered in the quarter.
    • Production Costs: The consolidated average cash operating cost at the Company’s three operations, was USD11.5 per cubic metre. The average total cash cost for all operations (including rehabilitation and royalty payments) for the period amounted to USD12.2 per cubic meter, down 35% from a year ago.
    • Cash cost of sales: The cash cost of sales increased to CAD22.1 million, commensurate with the higher carat sales. This was led by increased mining output at Niewejaarskraal and the royalty mining contractors at Tirisano while the inventory movement also had an impact.
    • Net cash position: At November 30, 2014 Rockwell had net cash and cash equivalents of (CAD0.5 million), having recorded a net movement in cash and cash equivalents of CAD0.4 million including the receipt of CAD2.3 million in respect of convertible debenture and loans.
    • Middle Orange River (“MOR”) operating performance: A total of 1.4 million m3 was mined from Rockwell’s MOR operations, up 60% from the prior year, facilitated by the ongoing optimization of our screening operations and the earthmoving vehicle (“EMV”) fleet through the renewal plan. Volumes of gravel processed increased 29% to 1.0 million m3 with the inclusion of Niewejaarskraal.

    Market update
    Global rough diamond sales slowed in the third quarter, with lower pricing resulting from high inventories in the pipeline and a liquidity squeeze in the industry. Two De Beers Group Sightholder Sales Sights held during the period saw relatively less goods supplied at stable prices, except in certain categories. In the polished diamond market, discounting was evidenced, particularly in India, where the industry is experiencing liquidity constraints. Retail demand was sluggish with retailers limiting purchases to meet immediate requirements and buying on extended credit terms. Discounting is expected to enhance sales volumes to reduce inventories and improve liquidity. Demand for exceptional fancy colored goods continues to improve with record prices achieved for blue, red and pink diamonds.

    Discounting of polished goods is anticipated to persist into the fourth quarter to support December sales, supporting demand in the final weeks of F2015 as factories restock polished inventories ahead of the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, both of which are in February.

    Strategy including growth projects and priorities
    Rockwell’s ongoing exploration activities aim to increase production from its MOR properties, and extend the mine lives. These include contiguous exploration of existing resources at the Saxendrift Extension property. Through trial mining, the Niewejaarskraal inferred resource will be upgraded. The Company continues to review options to bring the Wouterspan property into production on a phased approach, following the completion of a preliminary economic assessment in May 2014.
    Fourth quarter operational and corporate priorities are as follows:
    • Managing operating costs while increasing volumes processed across all operations.
    • Maintaining the higher volumes of gravel mined and processed at Saxendrift while sustainably reducing the mining cash cost/m3.
    • SHC was designed for an 18-month mine life, which expired at the end of 2014. To optimize the remaining resource, Rockwell has decided to process the remaining resource at the Saxendrift plant. The EMV fleet is being moved to Niewejaarskraal to ramp up production and the processing plant will be reallocated in due course.
    • At Niewejaarskraal, the focus is on enhancing the operating economics of the property by further ramping up throughput.
    • Closing the acquisition of the contiguous MOR alluvial properties and mining capabilities, is a top priority as these will enhance Rockwell’s MOR operating base through scale.

    Conference Call:
    Rockwell will host a telephone conference call on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 09:00 a.m. Eastern Time (16:00 p.m. Johannesburg) to discuss these results. For further details, see Rockwell’s complete financial results and Management Discussion and Analysis posted on the website and on the Company's profile at www.sedar.com. These include additional details on production, sales and revenues for the quarter, as well as comparative results for fiscal 2014
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    Closing price data source: JSE Ltd. All other statistics calculated by ProfileData.
       

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