The value of rough diamond sales at the world’s two largest mining companies, De Beers and Alrosa, climbed in 2018 in terms of U.S. dollars, although production in terms of carats dipped.
With the provisional total for De Beers 10th sales cycle in 2018 totaling $540 million, the company closed out the year with sales worth $5.39 billion, which was a modest 1.6 percent higher than the amount reported in 2017. But rough diamond sales in terms of volume were 4 percent lower at 33.7 million carats, compared with 35.1 million carats a year earlier.
De Beers said that the volume of sales was below that of production mainly because of lower demand for less-expensive rough diamonds during the second half of 2018. Total production in 2018 was 35.3 million carats, which was at the low-end of its production guidance range of 35 to 36 million carats.
The average price per carat of rough diamonds sold by De Beers stood at $171, 6 percent more than the $162 that was reported in 2017.
ALROSA BEHIND DE BEERS AS WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST PRODUCER
At Alrosa, the state-controlled Russian mining company, sales rose 6 percent to stand at $4.5 million, up $242 million.
But in terms of volume an 8 percent decrease was reported, with sales of 38.1 million, compared to 41.4 million carats in 2017. The volume of sales of gem quality goods fell by 12 percent to 26.4 million, while the volume of industrial quality rose 5 percent 11.7 million carats.
Hauling diamond-rich ore at a De Beers Group/Debswana mine in Botswana.
Unlike De Beers, Alrosa reported that the volume of diamond production volume in 2018 was higher than that of sales, with 36.7 million carats mined during the 12-month period.
The Russian company said that its rough diamond price index gained 3.7 percent in 2017 on the back of recovering market demand.
Mining during the dark winter months at Alrosa’s Nyurba mine, which is located in Yakutia, close to the Arctic Circle.
DE BEERS’ PRODUCTION TO FALL AND ALROSA’S TO RISE IN 2019
In its guidance for 2019, De Beers forecast that rough diamond production would total 31 million to 33 million carats, subject to trading conditions. The company said that this would be a result of a transitioning of its giant Venetia mine in South Africa from an open pit to an underground facility, a process that should culminate in 2023.
De Beers also said that an increased proportion of production in 2019 is expected to come from its joint venture partners, who share part of the production, producing a mining margin that is lower than that generated at mines which it owns completely.
For its part, Alrosa said that production will rise by 4 percent in 2019, to stand at 38 million.