Desmond-backed miner delays results and cancels diamond sales due to Covid-19

Mountain Province Diamonds had been due to sell diamonds in Antwerp this week

MPD has told shareholders, all diamond sales have been cancelled “until further notice”. Photograph: iStock

MPD has told shareholders, all diamond sales have been cancelled “until further notice”. Photograph: iStock

 

A Canadian diamond miner backed by Irish businessman Dermot Desmond has postponed gem sales and delayed the release of its full-year financial results because of the practical impact on the business of movement restrictions to fight Covid-19.

Mountain Province Diamonds (MPD), which owns 49 per cent of vast Arctic diamond mine, Gahcho Kue, said it has been forced to postpone its scheduled diamond sales in Belgium. Toronto-listed MPD, in which Mr Desmond has a 32 per cent stake, normally sells its diamonds from the mine at industry sales in Antwerp. Its third sale of 2020 was due to take place on Thursday.

However, it has told shareholders, all diamond sales have been cancelled “until further notice” because of a city-wide closure of commercial activities by public health officials in the Belgian port.

“The company is reviewing options to consider alternative sales methods as it tries to navigate these unprecedented times,” MPD said.

The company’s annual financial results, which were due on Monday of this week, have also been postponed until March 23rd, because its managers and auditors were unable to travel or meet to finalise the numbers in time.

Travel restrictions

MPD said travel restrictions and self-isolation measures had “hindered the company and its auditors’ ability to complete the work”. Canada has implemented some of the toughest measures seen internationally to fight the spread of the virus.

The company’s offices are in Toronto, but Gahcho Kue, which is 51 per cent owned by De Beers, its operator, is located in the north Canadian wilderness inside the Arctic Circle.

MPD said its mine operations are unaffected by Covid-19, but it is possible this could change in coming weeks.

Mr Desmond has been an investor in the Canadian mining industry for about two decades. Jonathan Comerford, a long-time associate of the businessman and an employee at his IIU investment firm, is chairman. Brett Desmond, Mr Desmond’s son, is also a director of MPD.