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De Beers Lifts Production in Strong Rough Market

Jan 27, 2022 5:18 AM   By Rapaport News
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De Beers raised its diamond output in the fourth quarter of 2021 in response to buoyant demand that has put pressure on rough supply.

Production at the miner jumped 15% year on year to 7.7 million carats, reflecting higher ore grades in Botswana, parent company Anglo American reported Thursday.

Sales were also 7.7 million carats — 12% more than a year earlier, partly because of changes to De Beers’ supply schedule: It held three sights during the period, compared with two in the equivalent quarter of 2020.

Robust retail sales and upbeat polished trading led to almost unprecedented levels of rough demand during 2021, while restrictions to global mining capacity have limited the availability of goods. De Beers’ average price index rose 12% for the second half of last year compared with the same period of the previous year, management said. The company hiked prices by up to 15% in some categories at its recent January sight, market insiders told Rapaport News

“Demand for rough diamonds remained robust, with positive midstream sentiment and strong demand for diamond jewelry continuing over the holiday period, particularly in the key US consumer market,” Anglo American said in a statement.

To meet the demand, De Beers increased production in Botswana by 23% for a total of 5.2 million carats during the quarter, reflecting the planned treatment of higher-grade ore at the Jwaneng mine. Output in Namibia climbed 16% to 392,000 carats, while recoveries in South Africa were flat at 1.3 million carats. Production in Canada slipped 1% to 771,000 carats.

Full-year output jumped 29% to 32.3 million carats as the company returned to more normal production levels after curtailing operations during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis. Sales leaped 60% to 36.3 million carats.

De Beers plans to recover 30 million to 33 million carats in 2022. Anglo American is due to release full data for 2021 — including revenue and profit — on February 24.

Image: Trucks at De Beers’ Jwaneng mine in Botswana. (Shutterstock)
Tags: Anglo American, Botswana, Canada, COVID-19, De Beers, Jewelry, Jwaneng, mining, Namibia, Production, Rapaport News, rough, rough market, Sights, South Africa, US
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