Rough diamond sales at De Beers fell 25 percent in the first cycle of the year, signalling weak demand for smaller and cheaper stones. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Rough diamond sales at De Beers fell 25 percent in the first cycle of the year, signalling weak demand for smaller and cheaper stones.

The 85 percent Anglo American-owned company reported that rough diamond sales had fallen to $505 million (R6.87 billion), down from $672m a year earlier. 

Sales from the 10th sales cycle of 2018 amounted to $544m.

De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said: “Rough diamond sales during the first sales cycle of 2019 were lower than those for the equivalent period last year, reflecting higher than normal sales in the previous cycle (cycle 10 2018) and the slow movement of lower value rough diamonds through the pipeline.”

Last week, De Beers said the full year rough diamond sales volumes had declined 4 percent at 33.7 million carats driven by lower demand for lower value rough diamonds in the second half of 2018. The company last week lowered its production guidance for 2019 to between 31 and 33 million carats.

The company attributed the lower production to the process of exiting from the Venetia open pit. 

BUSINESS REPORT