Petra Diamonds Unearths another Exceptional Blue Diamond from South Africa's Cullinan Mine
Petra Diamonds Limited, owners of the Cullinan mine in South Africa, one of the world’s most celebrated diamond mines, has just announced it has unearthed yet another exceptionally rare 122.52 carat blue diamond.
The Cullinan mine, the world’s most important source of rare blue diamonds, is located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, 37 kilometres north-east of Pretoria and was acquired by Petra Diamonds in 2008.
A Company statement said this latest discovery will require further analysis in order to assess its potential value and once this is completed the company will be in a position to evaluate is optimal route to market.
The statement said: “The diamond will therefore not be sold before the end of the Company's current financial year (30 June 2014).”
Petra Diamonds is a leading independent diamond mining group and an increasingly important supplier of rough diamonds to the international market.
The Company has interests in six producing mines: five in South Africa comprising Finsch, Cullinan, Koffiefontein, Kimberley Underground and Helam, and one in Tanzania (Williamson). It also maintains an exploration programme in Botswana.
Petra Diamonds offers an exceptional growth profile, with a core objective to steadily increase annual production to five million carats by the financial year 2019. The Group has a major resource base in excess of 300 million carats.
It conducts all operations according to the highest ethical standards and will only operate in countries which are members of the Kimberley Process.
The Company is quoted with a premium listing on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange under the ticker 'PDL' and is a member of the FTSE 250.
The Cullinan mine has already earned its place in history with the discovery of the Cullinan diamond in 1905, the largest rough gem diamond ever found at 3,106 carats.
This iconic stone was cut into the two most important diamonds which form part of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London - the First Star of Africa, which is mounted at the top of the Sovereign's Sceptre and which at 530 carats is the largest flawless cut diamond in the world, and the Second Star of Africa, a 317 carat polished diamond which forms the centrepiece of the Imperial State Crown.
Cullinan frequently yields diamonds larger than 10 carats. Furthermore, it has produced more than 750 stones weighing more than 100 carats, 130 stones weighing more than 200 carats, and around a quarter of all diamonds weighing more than 400 carats.
Discoveries from Cullinan include the collection of 11 rare blues displayed in 2000 at London's Millennium Dome alongside the Millennium Star and which included the fancy vivid blue Heart of Eternity (27 carats polished).
Blue diamonds are one of nature's most special treasures and the natural blue colour is derived from small amounts of the chemical element boron trapped in the crystal carbon structure during their formation.
Virtually every blue diamond described by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory as "blue" is classified as a Type IIb diamond.
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.