Petra Diamonds might breach debt covenants

Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL) announced Monday that it is likely to breach key debt covenants with its lenders as a result of the labour disruptions that took place in September at its Finsch mine and the Kimberley Ekapa joint venture in South Africa.

In a press release, the company said that the confiscation of a $15-million parcel of diamonds by the Tanzanian government and the subsequent halting of operations at its Williamson mine are also to blame for the possibility of breaching ratios related to its earnings before interest, tax and amortisation at the end of the year.

Petra already flagged the issue to its lenders and let them know that compliance with its duties “remains sensitive to changes in diamond prices, exchange rates and expected production from the Group's mines, including total carats and mix.”

With the idea of expanding some of its mines in South Africa and getting higher-quality diamonds at lower depths, Petra has engaged in a borrowing spree that has left the company with $555.3 million in debt as of June 30.

Production was supposed to pick up and lighten liabilities, but the temporary stoppage at Williamson and at the South African projects, plus the new three-year wage agreements it had to sign with the South African unions, has put the miner in a tough position.

Shares fell as much as 6 per cent earlier and were down 4.2 per cent at 79.83 pence by 08:51 GMT.