De Beers’ 2018 Diamond Production +6% To 35.29mct
De Beers said rough diamond production for the fourth quarter of 2018 increased by 12% to 9.1 million carats. This brought De Beers’ total diamond production for 2018 to 35.29 million carats, a year-on-year increase of 6%, due to a planned production increase at the Orapa mine, although this was in the lower half of the production guidance range of 35 to 36 million carats, it noted.
In Botswana (Debswana), Q4 production increased by 15% to 6.3 million carats. De Beers’ full year diamond output in Botswana grew 6% to 24.1 million carats. Orapa’s Q4 production increased by 20% to 3.6 million carats driven by planned favourable grade and higher plant utilisation. Jwaneng’s production increased by 9% following an increase in tonnes treated, De Beers said.
The company’s fourth quarter diamond production in Namibia (Namdeb Holdings) increased by 3% to 0.5 million carats, driven by the Mafuta crawler vessel at Debmarine Namibia spending fewer days in port. This was partly offset by the land operations following the transition of Elizabeth Bay to care and maintenance, the miner said. De Beers’ annual diamond production in Namibia rose by 11% to 2.0 million carats.
The mining major’s South African (De Beers Consolidated Mines) diamond production increased by 7% to 1.2 million carats in the fourth quarter as a result of planned higher grade ore at Venetia. However, its South African diamond output registered a 10% drop to 4.6 million carats for the full year 2018.
De Beers’ Canada production increased by 5% to 1.0 million carats in the fourth quarter due to higher grades at Victor as it reaches the end of its life. This was partially offset by planned lower grades at Gahcho Kué. The miner’s Canadian diamond output shot up 19% on a year-on-year basis to 4.47 million carats.
De Beers said rough diamond sales volumes in the fourth quarter totalled 9.9 million carats (9.3 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three sales cycles, compared with 8.2 million carats (7.5 million carats on a consolidated basis) from the same number of sales cycles during the equivalent period in 2017. Fourth quarter rough sales revenues increased year-on-year as the re-phased allocations of some lower value rough diamonds from Sight 7 (in September) were realised in Sights 9 and 10.
For the full year, rough diamond sales volumes were 4% lower at 33.7 million carats (31.7 million carats on a consolidated basis) compared with 35.1 million carats (33.1 million carats on a consolidated basis) in 2017. The 2018 sales volumes were also lower than production, driven by lower demand for lower value rough diamonds in the second half of 2018.
The consolidated average realised price of $171/carat was 6% higher (2017: $162/carat), due to a lower proportion of lower value rough diamonds sold in 2018.
De Beers’ 2019 production guidance is 31 to 33 million carats, subject to trading conditions. The lower production is driven by the process of exiting from the Venetia open pit with the underground becoming the principal source of ore from 2023. Associated with this, an increased proportion of production in 2019 is expected to come from De Beers’ joint venture partners, a proportion of which generates a trading margin, which is lower than the mining margin generated from own mined production.