De Beers’ fourth-quarter rough diamond production down 3% y/y

8th February 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

De Beers’ fourth-quarter rough diamond production down 3% y/y

Diamond producer De Beers reported on February 8 that its 2023 fourth-quarter rough diamond production had decreased by 3% year-on-year to 7.9-million carats, primarily owing to the planned reduction in South Africa as the Venetia mine transitions to underground operations.

This was partly offset by a 6% year-on-year increase in production from Botswana to 6.1-million carats, principally driven by increased plant throughput at Orapa owing to planned lower maintenance.

Meanwhile, diamond production in Namibia decreased by 4% year-on-year to 600 000 ct, owing to marginally lower grades at the land operations.

In South Africa, production decreased by 54% to 400 000 ct, owing to the planned end of Venetia's openpit operations in December 2022. De Beers said Venetia would continue to process lower-grade surface stockpiles as the underground operations ramp up production over the next few years.

In Canada, production decreased by 3% to 800 000 ct owing to the planned treatment of lower-grade ore.

De Beers offered full flexibility for rough diamond allocations in its ninth and tenth sightholder sales cycles, as sightholders continued to take a cautious approach to their buying during the fourth quarter as a result of the prevailing market conditions and extended cutting and polishing factory closures in India.

This followed a two-month voluntary import moratorium on rough diamonds into India during the period.

Consequently, rough diamond sales totalled 2.7-million carats from two sights, compared with the 7.3-million carats sold in two sights held in the fourth quarter of 2022, and the 7.4-million carats sold in three sights in the third quarter of last year.

The full-year consolidated average realised price decreased by 25% to $147/ct from $197/ct in 2022, reflecting a larger proportion of lower-value rough diamonds being sold, as well as a 6% decrease in the average rough price index.

De Beers said its production guidance for the current year remained unchanged at between 29-million and 32-million carats. However, the company said it would assess options to reduce production in response to prevailing market conditions.

The company confirmed its unit cost guidance for 2024 at about $80/ct.