De Beers and Anglo American report that rough diamond production for Q4 2016 increased by 10 percent to 7.8 million carats compared with Q4 2015 (7.1 Mct) when production was reduced in response to trading conditions. The company highlights that the increase reflected the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué Mine in Canada, the joint venture between De Beers (51%), which is also the operator, and Mountain Province Diamonds. Rough production surged 24% from Q3 2016 (6.3 million carats) to Q4 2016 (7.8 Mct). Notably, despite the strong ending to the year, overall annual production fell 5% compared to 2015, to 27.3 million carats from 28.7 Mct, and was 16% lower than in 2014, when De Beers produced 32.6 million carats.
The statement reads that while Q4 production may have only increased 10% year-over-year, total rough diamond sales volumes in Q4 2016 more than doubled to eight million carats (7.5 million carats on a consolidated basis), compared with Q4 2015. For the full year, total rough diamond sales volumes increased by 55% to 32 million carats (30 million carats on a consolidated basis. According to the company, these increases reflect the improved trading conditions from those experienced in H2 2015. For the full year, the average realised price of US$187 per carat was 10% lower than in 2015, reflecting the lower average rough price index, which was down 13%, partially offset by a stronger product mix.
Looking at the specific countries of production, in Botswana (Debswana Diamond Company), production increased by 15% to 5.4 million carats. At the Jwaneng Mine, production increased 40%, partly offset by Orapa, which decreased by six percent, while Damtshaa (a satellite operation of Orapa), was placed on care and maintenance from 1 January 2016. In South Africa (De Beers Consolidated Mines), production decreased marginally to 1.4 million carats, mainly due to the sale of Kimberley Mines in January 2016, partly offset by an increase of 18% at Venetia due to the processing of higher grades. In Namibia (Namdeb Holdings), production increased by six percent to 428,000 carats due to increased material processed by the Debmarine Namibia fleet. De Beers Canada saw production increase 13% to 497,000 carats, driven by the ramp-up at Gahcho Kué. This was partially offset by Snap Lake being placed on care and maintenance in December 2015. The ramp-up of Gahcho Kué continues to progress, with commercial production expected to be reached during Q1 2017. Gahcho Kué's production will be marketed in Antwerp.