Global diamond mining giant De Beers has broken its six year old record after rough diamond sales soared in 2022.
In its tenth and final yearly sales cycle for 2022, De Beers sold $410 million of rough diamonds, lower than the $454 million in previous ninth sales cycle but higher than the $336 million in the corresponding tenth sales cycle in December 2021.
“Demand for our rough diamonds over the final sales cycle of 2022 was in line with expectations, ahead of the normal seasonal closure of polishing factories in southern Africa over the Christmas period and with Sightholders taking a prudent approach ahead of restocking after Christmas and the expected re-opening of the China market,” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group.
For the ten sales cycle of 2022, the mining giant sold a total of $5.79 billion worth of rough diamonds, surpassing the 2016 record sales of $5.6 billion. The new record follows what has been a strong recovery in the diamond industry, improving on 2021’s $4.82 billion, which eclipsed the $2.79 billion earned in 2020 after COVID-19 roiled the diamond industry, reducing the gains made in 2019 after the diamond miner sold $4 billion worth of rough diamonds. In 2018, De Beers ten sales cycle earned $5.39 billion and $5.31 billion in 2017.
De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (DGSS) – a subsidiary of De Beers Group based in Gaborone – hosts sales 10 times a year that are known as ‘sights’. DGSS sells around 90 per cent of De Beers Group’s rough diamonds, by value, via term contracts to customers. The other 10 percent is sold via De Beers Group Auctions, which has over 950 registered Buyers.
These customers are among the world’s leading diamantaires and are active in the major diamond centres. There are two types of customers in Global Sightholder Sales: sightholders and accredited buyers. Sightholders benefit from a term contract covering the sale of diamonds over an agreed period, whereas accredited buyers have a more ad hoc arrangement.
While the rough diamond production report for the fourth quarter of 2022 yet to be released later this month, it was a fantastic year for De Beers. Diamond production surged in the third quarter of 2022, thanks to strong operational performance and higher planned levels of production to meet continued strong demand for rough diamonds.
The diamond mining company that is 85 percent owned by Anglo American, reported a 20 percent increase in rough diamond production for the third quarter of 2022, reaching 9.6 million carats. This was a significant improvement compared to the second quarter’s production of 7.9 million carats and the 8.9 million carats produced in the first quarter. For the first three quarters of the year, De Beers’ production reached 26.5 million carats, an 8 percent increase from the same period in 2021.
De Beers, which operates in a 50/50 joint venture with the Botswana government through Debswana, has set a production guidance of 32-34 million carats for the year 2022.
As has been the case over the years, the increase in diamond output was propelled by robust performance from Botswana based mines, accounting for nearly 70 percent of total production, with the third quarter up by 4 percent to 6.6 million carats. Orapa mine, the biggest diamond mine by area, was behind the stellar performance with treatment of higher grade ore to deliver 3 million carats. The largest diamond mine by value, Jwaneng, delivered 3.6 million carats, partly offset by processing lower grade ore.
There were improvements in other De Beers owned mines except for Canada. In Namibia production jumped by 33 percent to 0.5 million carats primarily driven by new diamond recovery vessel, the Benguela Gem, according to the production report.
In South Africa, production was up by 5 percent to 1.7 million carats due to the treatment of higher-grade ore and the benefit of plant upgrades. However, output in Canada decreased by 7 percent to 0.7 million carats, primarily as a result of tight labour markets.
While consumer demand for natural diamonds continues to be robust, a deterioration of global economic conditions, reduced consumer spending and continued Chinese Covid-19 lockdowns have the potential to impact demand for diamond jewellery.