De Beers says its rough diamond production increased 12% to 9.1 million carats in the fourth quarter of 2018, bringing total production for year to 35.3 million carats due to a planned production increase at Orapa mine, although this was in the lower half of the production guidance range of 35 to 36 million carats.
At Debswana, the diamond miner revealed that production increased 15%to 6.3 million carats. Orapa production increased 20% to 3.6 million carats, driven by planned favourable grade and higher plant utilisation. “Jwaneng production increased nine per cent following an increase in tonnes treated,” the company said in an update.
Production increased three percent to 505,000 carats, in Namibia 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.
In South Africa, De Beers said production increased seven percent to 1.2 million carats as a result of planned higher grade ore at Venetia.
Rough diamond sales volumes totalled 9.9 million carats (9.2 million carats on a consolidated basis3) from three sales cycles, compared with 8.2 million carats (7.5 million carats on a consolidated basis3) 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 four percent lower at 33.7 million carats (31.6 million carats on a consolidated basis3) compared with 35.1 million carats (33.1 million carats on a consolidated basis3) in 2017. 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 US$171/ct was six per cent higher (2017: US$162/ct), due to a lower proportion of lower value rough diamonds sold in 2018.
The 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 Group’s joint venture partners,a proportion of which only generate a trading margin, which is lower than the mining margin generated from own mined production.”