De Beers Q4 Diamond Output Down by 16%

Gaborone: De Beers said its diamond output for the fourth quarter of 2015 fell 16 percent to 7.1 million carats compared with 8.4 million carats produced a year earlier.

It said in a statement that the drop reflected the decision by the group to reduce production in response to trading conditions.

The diamond market struggled last year due to liquidity crunch, strengthening US dollar against major currencies and sluggish Chinese economic growth.

De Beers’ production, however, increased 17 percent compared with 6 million carats recorded during the third quarter of 2015, due to improved grade at Orapa and as a result of an annual planned six day plant shutdown at Venetia in the third quarter.

In Botswana, Debswana saw its fourth quarter output down 21 per cent to 4.7 million carats, as a result of a reduction in tonnes treated at Jwaneng and Orapa.

Damtshaa, a satellite of Orapa Mine, was placed on care and maintenance from 1 January 2016, said De Beers. Production, however, increased marginally to 1.5 million carats at De Beers Consolidated Mines South Africa.

Voorspoed and Kimberley each produced more than in the comparative quarter, although this represents a small share of overall production. Kimberley Mines was sold to Ekapa Minerals and the transaction was completed last week. It said Venetia’s production declined, driven by a reduction in tonnes treated.

In Namibia, De Beers said, production decreased 18 percent to 0.4 million carats, due to mining being focused on lower grade areas.

The group’s production in Canada also dropped by eight percent to 400 000 carats, due to marginally reduced activity at Victor and lower grade at Snap Lake. De Beers placed Snap Lake on care and maintenance in December.

Meanwhile, De Beers said its rough diamond sales volumes in the quarter were 3.6 million carats, compared with 3 million carats in the third quarter of 2015.

This, it said, reflected the weaker trading conditions and higher pipeline stocks that impacted upon the midstream. “For the full year, volumes decreased by 39 per cent to 19.9 million carats (20.6 million carats on a 100 per cent basis including all sales by joint ventures),” the statement said.

“The De Beers rough price index was on average eight per cent lower in 2015 than in 2014, with the index falling by 15 per cent over the course of the year.

“However, the average realized price at $207 per carat was five per cent higher than in 2014 due to a higher quality average product mix.”