Global Diamond Production Falls 2% to 148.2M Carats in 2018, Value Rises

Rough Market
09/07/2019 12:27

Global rough-diamond production fell to 148.2 million carats in 2018, a decline of less than 2% from the 150.9 million carats recovered in 2017; however, a 4% rise in the average price per carat led to a 2.4% increase in the value of the world's rough diamond production, according to Kimberley Process (KP) data. Global diamond production was worth $14.47 billion in 2018 compared to $14.12 billion in 2017, as the average price per carat rose to $97.5 from $93.6. 

Three countries in particular had the largest impact on last year's downturn in rough-diamond output: Australia's rough production declined by 3 million carats, representing an 18% drop to 14.1 million carats from 17.1 million carats in 2017 as the country's Argyle mine, owned by Rio Tinto, slides toward its end of life; rough-diamond production in the DRC fell by 2.5 million carats to 16.4 million carats for the year, a 13% decline from the 18.9 million carats produced a year before; and Angola saw production decline by 1 million carats to 8.4 million carats overall, a 11% decline from 2017. While Australia ($12.89/ct) and DRC ($8.31/ct) achieve the lowest value per carat among major producers, Angola saw its average value per carat jump by 25% in 2018 to $146/ct from $117/ct, leading to an 11% increase in the overall value of the country's diamond output despite the decline in volume. Look for this trend to continue as Angola's President Lourenço liberalizes the diamond industry.

To find the single largest contributor to the increase in the value of the world's diamond production, one must look to Botswana, as the country - the second largest producer in the world - increased its output by 6% to 24.4 million carats while the average price earned for its rough remained steady at $145/ct. Canada's output was equal to that of 2017, but the world's third largest producer also increased the value of its production by 2% due to an equivalent rise in the prices achieved for its goods. It is also worth noting that Zimbabwe succeeded in increasing its production by 29% to 3.3 million carats, though it fell well short of its 4.6 million-carat target.

Russia remained the world's largest producer of rough diamonds in terms of volume as well as value, digging up 43.2 million carats (+1%) worth $3.98 billion (-3%) as its average price per carat earned fell by $4% to $92.3. Botswana regained its position as the world's second-largest producer by volume after having yielded that position to Canada in 2017.

Top 10 by Volume

Country       Volume (Mcts)
Russia              43.2
Botswana        24.4
Canada            23.2
DRC                 16.4
Australia          14.4
S. Africa            9.9
Angola              8.4
Zimbabwe        3.3
Namibia            2.4
Lesotho            1.3

Top 10 by Value

Country           Value ($M)          Average price ($/ct.)
Russia                $3,983                    $92
Botswana          $3,535                    $145
Canada              $2,098                    $90
South Africa      $1,228                    $124
Angola               $1,224                    $146
Namibia             $1,125                    $469
Lesotho             $377                       $291
Zimbabwe         $210                       $65
Australia            $181                       $13
Sierra Leone     $157                       $212

Photo: Shruti Mehta @DiamondsandAntwerp