Seasonal closure of De Beer’s diamond polishing factories cut December sales
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ANGLO American Plc yesterday reported a drop in rough diamond sales from De Beers ahead of the Christmas break for southern African polishing factories.
De Beers is the world’s biggest diamond producer by volume and is 85 percent owned by globally diversified mining house, Anglo.
De Beers expects sales value of rough diamonds for the tenth sales cycle of 2021 sold between December 6 to 21 December 2021 to dip to $332 million (R5.3 billion) down from $438m in the ninth sales cycle of 2021 and $452m recorded in the tenth sales cycle a year ago.
De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said: “Rough diamond demand and midstream sentiment continued to be positive in the final sales cycle of 2021, although as anticipated we saw some impact on sales ahead of the seasonal closure of polishing factories in southern Africa over the Christmas period.”
De Beers produces diamonds, the hardest material on earth, from mines in Botswana, South African, Namibia, Canada.
Cleaver said despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19, the group’s rough diamond sales for the year were higher than what was seen in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic, and much higher than sales in 2020.
“Consumer demand for diamond jewellery is continuing to perform very well over the key holiday period, so we head towards the new year with positive trading conditions and industry sentiment,” Cleaver said.
Diamond demand has bounced back from a year ago when it plunged due to the Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. Consumer demand for diamonds has picked up driven by the strong Chinese and US markets against limited supply due to quarantine restrictions in India.
Earlier this month Anglo said high rough diamond demand was one of the reasons the group’s output increased by 7 percent in 2021. De Beers expects to produce 32 million carats in 2021 due to continuing operational challenges, subject to the extent of any further Covid-19 related disruptions.
During the September quarter 2021 De Beers rough diamond production increased by 28 percent to 9.2 million carats, reflecting planned higher production to meet stronger demand for rough diamonds.
In Botswana, production increased by 33 percent to 6.4 million carats primarily driven by the planned treatment of higher grade ore at Jwaneng, partly offset by lower production at Orapa due to the planned closure of Plant 1.
Namibia production increased by 65 percent to 0.4 million carats reflecting the suspension of the marine fleet during the third quarter of 2020, as part of the response to lower demand at that time.
South Africa production increased by 34 percent to 1.6 million carats due to planned treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the Venetia open pit and an improvement in plant performance.
Production in Canada decreased by 13 percent to 0.8 million carats due to lower grade ore processed.