De Beers Rough Diamond Production Declines

Anticipates positive demand for rough in 2021


Rough diamond production at the world’s leading diamond company, De Beers, decreased by14 percent to 6.7 million carats in the fourth quarter (Q4), which ended 31 December 2020, this publication has established.

According to a report released by De Beers’ parent company, Anglo American, the decrease in production was due to planned reductions in response to the lower demand for rough diamonds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and operational challenges at Orapa that led to lower than expected production.

“In Botswana, production decreased by 28 percent to 4.3 million carats, driven by the planned treatment of lower grade material at Jwaneng where production decreased by 56 percent,” Anglo American noted. “This was partly offset by a 9 percent increase at Orapa due to a planned improvement in grade despite a slower than anticipated plant restart in December following scheduled maintenance, as well as power supply interruptions affecting plant availability.”

Anglo said in the neighbouring Namibia, production declined by 26 percent to 0.3 million carats as the majority of the marine fleet remobilised during Q4 following the Q3 stoppage. South African production, on the other hand, increased to 1.3 million carats due to the expected improvement in ore grade from the last cut of the open pit at Venetia as the mine continues to transition to underground operations.

Anglo American noted that demand for rough diamonds showed positive trends in the fourth quarter of 2020. “As we begin 2021, we are continuing to see positive demand for rough diamonds supported by consumer demand for diamond jewellery in the holiday selling season,” the company noted. While it is still too early to signal a strong and sustained recovery, the resilience in demand in spite of ongoing COVID-19 impacts is very encouraging.”

De Beers Group is a multinational company that specialises in diamond exploration, diamond mining, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial manufacturing. The company is active in open-pit, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep mining. It operates in 35 countries, including Botswana from where it generates 75 percent of its earnings.

De Beers’ major shareholder is Anglo American, which owns 85 percent of the company. The remaining 15 percent is owned by the Government of Botswana. De Beers Group and its partners produce around one third of the world’s rough diamonds by value. De Beers sells rough diamonds to global diamantaires through its diamond trading and auctions businesses. It sells polished diamonds and diamond jewellery via its Forevermark and De Beers Jewellers businesses.