Rio Tinto's 187 carat Foxfire diamond heads to auction
Foxfire, the ‘freak’ 187.7 carat diamond discovered in Rio Tinto Group’s Diavik Mine very nearly wasn’t discovered at all, it has been revealed.
The Diavik Diamond Mine has an ore processor that isn’t configured to handle and process big stones, with the quality of diamonds usually found at Diavik peaking at six carats.
As it is though, Foxfire manged to avoid being crushed by the processor due to its elongated shape, allowing it to pass through a filtering screen sideways.
Now the diamond looks to be set for auction in June, but David Shara, CEO of Optimum Diamonds, believes that the unusual story behind the diamond is cause to display it in a museum in its original uncut rough shape.
“It really is a miracle that it was found,’’ said Alan Davies, chief executive officer of diamonds and minerals for Rio Tinto, the operator of Canada’s Diavik mine, Foxfire’s former home. “It’s a rare find, a really rare find
The Canadian Diavik Mine began operating in 2003 on an island in Lac de Gras, and has produced more than 90 million carats of diamonds.
Read the May 2016 issue of Mining Global magazine
Low carbon world needs $1.7trn in mining investment
According to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, mining companies need to invest nearly $1.7trn in the next 15 years to help supply enough copper, cobalt, nickel and other metals needed for the shift to a low carbon world.
Cutting carbon emissions
The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada and others raised their targets on cutting carbon emissions to halt global warming at a summit in April hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Meeting those targets will need large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, storage for power generated from renewables and electricity transmission, all of which require industrial materials, such as lightweight aluminium and metals used in batteries such as cobalt and lithium.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Julian Kettle calculated miners needed to invest about $1.7trn during the next 15 years to “deliver a two-degree pathway - where the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times is limited to 2°C”.
“At an industry level, there seems to be reticence around investing sufficient capital to develop future supply at the pace and scale demanded by the energy transition (ET),” he said.
Mining firms are wary of making heavy investments after their experience of the last decade when they invested in new capacity just as demand peaked, leading to a collapse in prices and revenues. They also need to please investors, who are unlikely to want to see dividends diverted to capital spending.
Rising demands of investors related environment, social and governance (ESG) issues further add to the challenge.
Australia, Canada and Western Europe carry a low ESG risk but some of the best resources are in high-risk areas, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on about half the world’s cobalt reserves according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “Given the need to meet tough decarbonisation and ESG targets, Western governments, lenders, investors and consumers will need to get comfortable operating in jurisdictions where ESG issues are more complex,” Kettle said.
Kettle said government support was needed to help miners comply with ESG issues to ensure production from high-risk areas was conducted in an acceptable way to consumers.
“Then, and only then, will the West be able to secure sufficient volumes of the raw materials needed to pursue the energy transition in the timescales envisaged.”