India, China Driving Demand Growth for Diamonds

Hong Kong: SuJean-Marc Lieberherrrging demand for diamonds in China and India may see the two countries match the size of market in the U.S., the biggest consumer, by 2020, reports Bloomberg.

“We will see strong growth in India as soon as the country gets its house in order with the new government,” Jean-Marc Lieberherr, managing director of Rio Tinto Group (RIO)’s diamonds unit, said in an interview. “With China, policy is moving more toward encouraging domestic consumption rather than infrastructure and that’s going to have a positive impact.”

The middle class in China and India, the world’s fastest growing jewelry market, may double by 2015 compared with 2010, boosting demand for diamonds, according to WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. Global demand will probably rise 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year with U.S. consumption increasing as much as 6 percent, according to De Beers, the biggest producer.

China and India, where about 21 million marriages take place each year, may account for half of the growth in diamond demand in the five years from 2013, WWW International said in a January 2013 presentation.

Rio Tinto may bring its Bunder diamond project in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state into production as early as 2019, Lieberherr said. The Bunder deposit, found in 2004, was the first diamond discovery in India in about 40 years and is one of only four new diamond mines likely to enter production in the next decade, according to the world’s second-biggest miner.

Total spending by Rio Tinto on projects and expansions across its commodities is expected to be $8 billion in 2015, less than half its outlay in 2012, as it lowers costs amid a decline in commodity prices, the London-based producer said last month.

Rio opted in June 2013 to retain its diamond unit after failing to find a buyer and deciding not to pursue an initial public offering.

“We like diamonds, we think the fundamentals are very, very strong,” Lieberherr said at a Sept. 18 press conference in Hong Kong.