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Richland Resources undergoes strategic review, assesses further project opportunities

The strategic review aims to assess how the company can best leverage its position as the owner of one of the world's largest sapphire mines.
Richland has been seeking to further develop the Capricorn mine's licence area

Richland Resources Ltd (LON:RLD) has kicked off 2018 with a new chief executive to lead a strategic review of the business.

The company appointed Anthony Brooke as chief executive in February following the departure of Bernard Olivier.

Brooke was previously vice president of marketing and sales for Richland’s wholly-owned Capricorn Sapphire subsidiary.

He will oversee that group’s review, which aims to assess how the company can best leverage its position as the owner of one of the world's largest sapphire mines.

Richland temporarily halts mining operations, assesses potential additional projects

Mining operations at the Capricorn Sapphire mine in Queensland Australia have been suspended since December with the company blaming “extreme weather conditions and a weak market”.

While production is suspended, Richland is focused on an exploration programme seeking to further develop and identify additional resources on the Capricorn mine's licence area, including other commodities such as gold and lithium.

The group stockpiled gemstones from its third quarter production to pursue large sales events at more attractive prices in the fourth quarter.

Richland achieved third-quarter production of 1.06mln carats, with the average grade stated at 17.9 carats per tonne.

It sold 278,270 carats of cut and rough sapphires produced from the Capricorn mine from November 4 to the end of 2017, according to a January trading update.

The sales generated US$183,399, in revenue and brought the total sales achieved in the fourth quarter of 2017 to just over US$545,000.

Richland said significant sapphire stock remains available for sale when market demand improves and the company's minimum reserve prices are met.

"Whilst sapphire prices remain affected by buyers sourcing gemstones derived from illegal mining activity in Madagascar, we will continue to sell where our reserve prices are met, maintain a flexible production model and conduct exploration work to identify higher grade areas on our Capricorn Sapphire licence area,” chairman Ed Nealon said.

Export grant and fuel rebates boost first half

In the first half, Richland delivered a 66% rise in total income to US$1.18mln with revenue of US$341,000 from sapphire sales in the first quarter, and US$689,000 in the second.  

Income was boosted by an export grant and fuel rebates, together totalling almost US$100,000. 

At the same time, it reported an operating loss of US$960,000, narrowed from a US$1.46mln loss in the same period of last year.

The company ended the first half with US$300,000 of cash, and US$4.2mln of assets.

The group produced 1.96 mln carats over the six month period with some 114,300 tonnes of material processed.

Richland taking steps to address challenging market, says house broker

House broker Shore Capital said despite the challenges it has faced in the market, Richland has adapted its sales strategy.

“Being well-positioned to consistently supply sapphires in high volumes with full transparency of ethical provenance (which increasingly socially-aware end-consumers are increasingly demanding), Richland believes that strategic large sales events will enable it to leverage pricing against the irregular influx of uncertificated stones,” the broker said.

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