Covid-19 Ravages De Beers Sales

Canadian rough diamond

De Beers’ sales and production nosedived in the second quarter as the coronavirus crushed diamond demand throughout the pipeline and forced shutdowns at several mines.

“Demand for rough diamonds was significantly impacted by a combination of Covid-19 restrictions [affecting] consumer demand and access to southern Africa, as well as severely limited midstream cutting-and-polishing capacity due to lockdowns, particularly in India,” De Beers said Thursday.

Rough sales slumped 96% year on year to $56 million after the company canceled its March-April sight — the first of the quarter — and allowed clients to defer all May and June purchases to later in the year. Sales volume plunged 97% to 300,000 carats, and prices fell as well, the miner noted.

Most sightholders were unable to attend the usual sales in Botswana due to travel restrictions. The pandemic also affected international shipments.

Meanwhile, the shutdown of India’s manufacturing sector reduced rough demand: Factories in Surat, the country’s cutting hub, closed in March for around two months, and ongoing virus outbreaks have disrupted the reopening process.

De Beers’ rough production fell 54% to 3.5 million carats during the quarter as the miner lowered its output to reflect the weak demand. Measures by southern African governments to contain the coronavirus also limited the company’s ability to operate, with Botswana and South Africa accounting for a large proportion of its mining activities, alongside Canada and Namibia.

Sales volume for the first half of 2020 slid 44% year on year to 9.2 million carats, with the average selling price down 21% at $119 per carat. The company sold a higher proportion of lower-value rough than a year ago, and average rough prices across the period slipped 8% year on year on a like-for-like basis.

Despite these setbacks, De Beers maintained its production forecast of 25 million to 27 million carats for the full year. However, it will review this outlook based on Covid-19 disruptions and “the timing and scale of the recovery in demand,” it said.


Ellendale revival on the horizon with increased diamond value

Ellendale diamonds

Gibb River Diamonds has completed a review of the mothballed Ellendale diamond mine in Western Australia that will help it edge closer to a proposed restart.

The independent appraisal, which was completed by which was completed by Independent Diamond Valuers International (IDVI) valued gems from the Ellendale 9 East Lobe at $US750 ($1120) per carat.

This price represents a 20 per cent increase since 2008, largely due to the high number of fancy yellow diamonds unearthed at the West Kimberley-based mine.

With these results, a mine revival is looking ominous for the site, which was closed in 2015.

Last December, Gibb River Diamonds accepted an offer from the Western Australian Government apply for new tenements at the site.

“This review is important as it helps Gibb River Diamonds to make commercial decisions regarding mine planning and development priorities at Ellendale,” the company stated.

“Previous operators had a contract to sell the fancy yellow component of their production to Laurelton Diamonds (the jeweller Tiffany & Co).

“It is uncertain if similar premium prices can be achieved with any future fancy yellow goods.

“However, there is a potential opportunity to capitalise in the uniqueness of these fancy yellow goods to sell above market prices.”

The independent appraisal showed a further 18 per cent increase at the Ellendale 9 deposit to $US559 per carat since 2008.

The Ellendale 4 deposit also experienced an increase in value to $US135 per carat, representing a 5 per cent rise in 12 years.

IDVI uncovered 16 per cent fancy yellow diamonds within the Ellendale East Lobe, compared with 9 per cent in the West Lobe.

Gibb River has affirmed that as this information is based on generic sales data, future sales results could “vary significantly” from those in the report, as no sales have occurred since 2015.


India’s rough diamond imports fall sharply

India's rough diamonds

Import of rough diamonds fell 15.54% in the first 10 months of this financial year, according to the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

Industry executives anticipate a further fall of 10-15% in February and March, as manufacturers are not keen to build up inventory in the wake of coronavirus outbreak which has affected demand in the major markets of Hong Kong, mainland China and the Far East.

Meanwhile, Russia’s diamond miner Alrosa has granted flexibility  

to India’s authorised bulk purchasers of rough diamonds to buy 55% of the contracted volume so that their inventory does not pile up. “The US-China trade war has impacted exports, which in turn has brought down imports of rough diamonds.

Slow demand in the world market has resulted in piling up inventories in FY20,” Colin Shah, vice-chairman, GJEPC, told ET. “Manufacturers wanted to clear their inventories first, before fres ..

fresh stocking. During the Christmas and New Year, there was good demand from the US and Europe and we were able to offload quite a substantial portion of our inventories.”

International agency Rapaport said in its recent report that the recent influx of rough diamonds in the market, coupled with the weakened outlook for China, had raised concerns that the trade would return to an oversupply of rough diamonds.

De Beers reported a 9% year-on-year increase in sales to $545

million in January, owing to firmer prices on select boxes of commercial-quality diamonds.

It said that mining companies were holding large quantities of rough diamonds which they could not sell in 2019. Production of rough diamonds is projected to decrease about 6% this year, although mining companies have enough inventory to offset the decline.

Karowe Yields Massive 549ct. Rough

Lucara 549 carat rough diamond

Lucara Diamond Corp. has unearthed a 549-carat white diamond at its Karowe mine, the fourth-largest stone in the history of the Botswana deposit.

The unbroken stone, which is of “exceptional purity,” is the first large diamond Lucara has recovered using its Mega Diamond Recovery (MDR) equipment, the miner said Wednesday. The unit, which the miner commissioned in 2017, is specifically designed to recover large stones early in the extraction process to reduce the risk of breakage.

The rough stone is worth $15 million to $20 million, according to an estimate by Berenberg investment bank. However, it could potentially sell for more, the bank added.

The diamond came from the high-value EM/PK(S) portion of discovery of Karowe’s lucrative south lobe, Lucara noted. The same area yielded a 176-carat, gem-quality stone earlier this year, and was also the source of the 1,758-carat Sewelô, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona and the 813-carat Constellation.

“Lucara is extremely pleased to be starting off 2020 with the recovery of two large, high-quality diamonds that build on the positive momentum generated following the completion of a strong fourth-quarter sale in December,” Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said.

Lucara has retrieved six diamonds over 100 carats since the beginning of the year. It will announce its plans for the sale of the 549-carat and 176-carat diamonds shortly.

The miner’s share price rose 4% in early trading Thursday following the announcement.


Russia’s Alrosa sells diamonds worth $14.6 mln at Hong Kong auctions

Alrosa Diamonds

Russia’s diamond producer Alrosa sold rough and polished diamonds in the amount of $14.6 mln at auctions in Hong Kong, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company auctioned special size (above 10.8 carats) rough diamonds. Alrosa sold 101 diamonds with the total weight of 1,829 carats. Total revenues after the auction amounted to $10.5 mln, the company said.

“Considering the positive results of the auction, we can note that the demand for diamonds of the size category exceeding 10.8 carats remains stable,” said Evgeny Agureev, Member of the Alrosa’s Management Board.

Alrosa also staged an auction for polished diamonds. “The company sold 56 stones with a total weight of almost 300 carats, most of which are fancy colored diamonds (238 carats). That amount included two fancy yellow diamonds of “cushion” cut, weighing 31 and 30 carats, their total value at the auction amounted to $815,000,” Alrosa noted. Total revenues of the polished diamond auction equaled $4.1 mln.

The Russian company is engaged in exploration, production and sale of diamonds. The company produces diamonds on the territory of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Arkhangelsk Region. The company’s shareholders are the Russian Federation represented by the Federal Property Management Agency (33.02%), the Sakha Region (Yakutia) – 25%, districts of Yakutia – 8%. That being said, 34% of shares are in free float.