Nearly two years after the closure of the famous Argyle mine, another diamond mine in the Kimberley is celebrating a significant milestone.
Burgundy Diamond Mines announced on Thursday that it had recovered the first diamond from the rejuvenated Ellendale project.
The diamond – classified as a fancy yellow – measured 1.51 carat and its arrival comes as the company reaches final stages of commissioning of its bulk sample plant at Blina, east of Derby.
The state-of-the-art plant was shipped from South Africa to Perth in March and then transported to site. It’s expected to start producing commercially by the end of the year.
“The first diamond recovered at Blina is an example of the potential quality of product from the Blina alluvials and the wider Ellendale project, and we look forward to building towards commercial production of these exquisite fancy yellow diamonds,” Burgundy Managing Director Peter Ravenscroft said.
“This is especially timely as we finalise arrangements for the upcoming Australian launch of our ultra-luxury Maison Mazerea diamond brand later this month, which will be the vehicle to market and sell polished retail stones.”
Ellendale was initially mined in 2002 but closed in 2015 after its previous operator Kimberley Diamonds went into liquidation.
The abandoned mine initially fell into the hands of the State Government but the site was taken over in 2019 by Gibb River Diamonds, which in turn sold the mine to Burgundy in 2021.
The revival of Ellendale follows Rio Tinto’s November 2020 closure of operations at Argyle, which had produced 90 per cent of the world’s supply of pink diamonds.
Operational from 1983, Argyle produced 860 million carats of raw diamonds but found its niche with fancy pinks, the value of which was estimated to have increased 500 per cent over a 20-year period.
A fancy-purple-pink known as the Fitzpatrick sold for an Australian record price of $2.2 million last year.
Pink diamonds were back in the news recently when a Subiaco-headquartered company announced the discovery in Angola of what was believed to be the largest found for more than 300 years.
Burgundy Diamond Mines – which is also active in Canada, Botswana and Peru- has ambitions to become the world’s leading end-to-end diamond company.
Certainly its announcement this week is a shot in the arm for WA diamond mining, which may have appeared to be largely over following Argyle’s closure.