De Beers loses its sparkle as rough diamond sales decline

Published Oct 17, 2018


JOHANNESBURG – De Beers, which is majority owned by Anglo American, yesterday reported its biggest decline in rough diamond sales this year.

It said the value of its rough diamond sales for the eighth cycle had fallen to $475 million (R6.74billion) during auctions and sight-holder sales. This was down from the $503m recorded in the seventh sales cycle of the year. Rough diamond sales in the eighth cycle of last year totalled $376m.

De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said demand for the group's products was climbing steadily despite the knock of the rupee-dollar.

“While the rupee-dollar exchange rate has impacted demand for lower value categories, we continue to see steady overall demand for De Beers Group rough diamonds, reflecting ongoing consumer demand for diamond jewellery in the US,” Cleaver said.

The Indian rupee is at the softest level versus the US dollar in history, denting Indian diamond manufacturers, which typically buy rough in US dollars.

De Beers is 85 percent owned by Anglo American with the rest of the shareholding held by the government of Botswana. It mines in operations in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa.

In South Africa it mines through De Beers Consolidated Mines in which its empowerment partner, Ponahalo, has a 26 percent shareholding. The majority of South African production comes from Venetia Diamond Mine in Limpopo.

Production at the South African operations plummeted by 28 percent to 1 million carats, in the second quarter of 2018. Group production increased by 3 percent to 9 million carats in the second quarter, reflecting sustained healthy trading conditions.

De Beers said previously that it would be producing gem-quality synthetic diamonds.


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