Monday 18 February 2019 9:57 am

Gold industry veteran takes the reins at Petra Diamonds

Mining giant Petra Diamonds has drafted in former gold-producing veteran Richard Duffy as its new chief executive amid attempts to slash its debt pile.

The South African gem miner, which has been facing pressure over its balance sheet in the wake of expansion, announced the appointment of AngloGold Ashanti’s ex-finance boss Duffy this morning.

Read more: Petra Diamonds shares fall as crown jewel mine suffers price drop

Investors seemed to welcome the news in early morning trading, as shares jumped eight per cent to 29p.

Petra’s chairman Adonis Pouroulis said Duffy "will be critical to drive Petra’s transition from a phase of intensive capital expenditure and expansion to a focus on steady-state, cash-generative operation."

Duffy is set to replace Johan Dippenaar, who stepped down in September last year several months after the firm was forced to raise £133m through a discounted share sale.

The news comes on the same day as the mining firm posted lower first-half adjusted core earnings in the wake of falling diamond prices.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) fell 6.4 per cent to $75.6m (£58.5m) in the six months to the end of December, slipping from $80.8m in the previous year.

Read more: Petra Diamonds chief executive steps down as miner lands earnings boost

According to analysts at Shore Capital, profit and loss in the first half of financial year 2019 "was not particularly pretty…Of more concern to us, however, is the continuing rise in net debt despite capital expenditure coming down."

Duffy is set to takeover officially ‚Äčon 1 April.