Anglo America, the global diversified mining group said production at its diamond unit De Beers went up 5% supported by stronger trading conditions, with Gahcho Kué operating at nameplate capacity since Q2 2017.
In its Production Report for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2017, the company said rough diamond production for Q4 2017 increased to 8.1 million carats, reflecting stronger trading conditions as well as the contribution from the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué in Canada.
At Debswana, production increased marginally to 5.5 million carats. Orapa’s production increased 14%, mainly due to planned increases in plant performance, and the ramp-up of Plant 1, which was previously on partial care and maintenance in response to trading conditions in late 2015.
“This was partially offset by Jwaneng where production decreased 15% due to expected lower grades,” Anglo said.
Production at Namdeb increased 14% to 488,000 carats, mainly due to higher grades at Namdeb’s land operations while there was a decrease of 17% to 1.1 million carats at De Beers Consolidated Mines in South Africa largely as a result of planned sequencing of ore sources at Venetia, where the increase in tonnes treated was more than offset by a reduction in grade.
Production doubled to 993,000 carats due to the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué, which reached nameplate capacity in Q2 2017.
Anglo added that consolidated rough diamond sales volumes2 in Q4 2017 were 7.5 million carats (2016: 7.5 million carats). Total sales volumes (100%),2which are comparable to production, were 8.2 million carats in Q4 2017 (Q4 2016: 8.0 million carats).
For the full year, consolidated sales volumes2 were 33.1 million carats (2016: 30.0 million carats). Total sales volumes (100 per cent),2 which are comparable to production, were 35.1 million carats (2016: 32.0 million carats).
The full year consolidated average realised price3 of US$162/ct was 13 per cent lower than in 2016. “This reflected strong demand in Sight 1 2017 for lower value goods held in stock at 31 December 2016, following a recovery from the initial impact of India’s demonetisation programme in late 2016, as well as the ramp-up of production from lower value per carat but high margin operations, including Orapa and Gahcho Kué. The lower value mix was partially offset by a higher average rough price index, up three per cent compared with 2016.”
Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said they delivered another strong operating performance in 2017. “The 5% increase for the full year reflects our ongoing focus on productivity and was achieved despite the removal of unprofitable and higher cost platinum and metallurgical coal volumes, consistent with our disciplined, value-led approach to production,” he said.
“The ramp-up of Gahcho Kué and Grosvenor mines made positive contributions to our production profile in 2017, and a strong performance from Sishen resulted in an 8% increase in production from Kumba Iron Ore.”