Rough diamond demand improves despite lower production, De Beers finds

De Beers has announced that rough diamond production fell by 4% to 7.2 million carats in its third quarter, driven by planned reductions in production to reflect the lower demand for rough diamonds amid the pandemic. 

It comes as Covid-19 related measures remain in place, according to the group, in a bid to safeguard the workforce while maintaining operational continuity.

In Botswana, production fell by 15% to 4.8 million carats due to the planned treatment of lower grade material at both Jwaneng and Orapa, with production targeted at levels to meet lower demand.

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Meanwhile, Namibia production plummeted by 43% to 0.2 million carats as the marine fleet suspended production for part of Q3 to reflect lower demand. In addition, one vessel was in dock for planned maintenance during the period.

South African production increased to 1.2 million carats, however, due to an expected change in ore mix, with more ore sourced from the higher grade material from the last cut of the open pit, rather than from low grade stockpiles, as the mine transitions to the underground.

Production in Canada also increased by 17% to 0.9 million carats, due to treatment of higher grade material at Gahcho Kué.

Following mixed international results, De Beers noted that demand for rough diamonds showed “signs of improvement” in the quarter as Covid-19 restrictions gradually eased in cutting and polishing centres and consumer markets ahead of the holiday season. 

Rough diamond sales totalled 6.6 million carats from three sights, compared with 0.3 million carats from two sights in Q2 2020, and 7.4 million carats from three sights in Q3 2019.

Looking ahead, production guidance for the full-year remains unchanged at 25-27 million carats, subject to continuous review based on the disruptions related to Covid-19, as well as the timing and scale of the recovery in demand.

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