The diversified mining group, which has an 85% stake in De Beers, said rough diamond sales also increased by 4% to $5.4 billion against $5.2 billion in 2017, driven by improved overall consumer demand for diamond jewellery and a 1% increase in the average rough diamond price index.
It also said the average realised price rose by 6% to $171/carat from $162/carat, the corresponding year, reflecting the lower proportion of lower value rough diamonds being sold in the second half.
This resulted in a 2% decrease in consolidated sales volumes to 31.7 million carats.
“Other revenue also increased owing to improved ‘high end’ jewellery sales at De Beers Jewellers (consolidated for a full year in 2018, compared with nine months in 2017), partly offset by a 5% decrease in Element Six revenue due to a reduction in sales to the oil and gas market,” said Anglo.
De Beers’ underlying EBITDA decreased by 13% to $1,245 million from the previous year’s $1,435 million.
Anglo said the second half of 2018 saw the low-priced product segment coming under immense pressure due to weak demand and surplus availability, the rapid depreciation of the rupee and a reduction in bank financing in the midstream.
“This resulted in a surplus of low-priced polished diamonds at the end of the year, leading to lower sales at the start of 2019,” it said.
Anglo said although the current economic forecasts remained positive, the outlook for 2019 global diamond jewellery consumer demand faces a number of headwinds, including the risk of a potential intensification of US-China trade tensions.
The Chinese government’s ability to rebalance economic growth towards consumption, and further exchange rate volatility were also projected to affect demand for diamond jewellery.
It said production in 2019 was projected to be in the range of 31-33 million carats, subject to trading conditions.
The lower production is driven by the planned process of exiting from the Venetia open pit, with the underground operation becoming the principal source of ore from 2023.
De Beers’ rough diamond production increased by 6% to 35.3 million carats in 2018.