The rough diamond trade in Antwerp during the month of November was marked by a resurgence of imports and exports of lower-priced rough after three sluggish months concerning the volumes of goods traded, while the polished trade experienced a general slowdown.
Discussions between the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group are already underway as the long-standing partners look to strike a new deal. The current 10-year agreement for the sorting, valuing and sales of Debswana’s diamond production (Debswana is a 50/50 mining joint venture between Botswana and De Beers) is set to expire at the end of 2020. Botswana is reportedly pushing for a larger stake in its "new marriage" with De Beers ahead of the negotiations for the next sales agreement, writes The Southern Times.
Riding the current wave of depressed rough diamond sales throughout the industry in recent months, De Beers' ninth sale of 2018 earned (provisionally) $440 million, the miner's lowest earnings in a sales cycle since October 2017. Soft demand from India has been the predominant factor in the decline of rough sales - particularly of smaller goods - across the industry.
Canadian miner Mountain Province Diamonds has sold US$17.7 million (CDN$23.3 million) from 245,751 carats at an average realized value of US$72 per carat at its ninth rough diamond which closed on November 14, 2018. The total proceeds from the sale were the lowest of the year thus far, but the average price per carat was the highest since the $85 per carat earned at the company's fifth sale of the year in June.
Several sources, including Bloomberg and Rapaport, have reported that De Beers has slashed its prices on lower-quality diamonds at its latest sight this week, with the discounts ranging from high-single digits to as much as 10%. Difficult trading conditions have been widely reported in the rough diamond market in recent months, although the market for higher-quality and larger goods has remained strong with firm pricing in all categories.
The Antwerp diamond trade in October booked value gains across all categories - particularly for polished-diamond exports and imports - with the exception of rough-diamond imports, which followed the recent decline in production and sales from the diamond miners.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA experienced a slight downtick in revenue and profit during the third quarter as compared with Q2, as significantly weaker sales volumes were offset by higher average prices and an improved sales mix. The miner has, however seen strong growth for the first nine months of the year, and last week commenced commercial diamond production at its newest mine, the Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field in Yakutia.
Mountain Province Diamonds, which owns 49% of the the Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories in Canada, earned $24.2 million in its latest diamond sale in Antwerp, its eighth of the year. The miner sold 366,505 carats at an average realized value of US$66 per carat, which the miner said was in line with their expectations and reflect current market conditions.
Canadian diamond miner Stornoway sold 184,620 carats in two tender sales for gross proceeds of $24.7 million at an average price of US$103 per carat (C$134 per carat) as price weakness returned to smaller and lower quality diamonds, a decline of 7% compared to the second quarter. Prices in the larger and higher quality items have remained firm. By way of comparison, the miner sold 201,283 carats at two tenders in Q2 for $28.6 million, at an average price of US$109 per carat.
The polished-diamond trade in Antwerp during September again witnessed a surging average price per carat, particularly for imports (+22%), however, the trading center remained quiet after the traditionally slow summer holiday, as a result of which the volume of goods traded declined notably. Some have attributed the September slowdown to the Jewish holiday period, while others tell us that Indian companies are still hesitant to acquire smaller goods, with many having already purchased what they need for the upcoming Diwali holidays.
Ari Epstein, CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), along with several representatives from the Antwerp diamond industry today met King Letsie III of Lesotho in Brussels. Lesotho, a mountainous country fully surrounded by South Africa and numbering only two million inhabitants, is the world’s seventh most important diamond-producing country in terms of value. Lesotho’s entire diamond production, worth $342 million in 2017, is traded on the Antwerp market.
The polished-diamond trade in Antwerp rode a higher average price per carat, particularly for exports (+6%), to solid value gains during the traditionally slow month of August, when the industry takes a three-week hiatus. The volume of rough goods traded during the month declined notably without having much impact on the overall value of those goods, as the average price per carat for rough goods is also outpacing that of the year prior by approximately 6%.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA said its first half net profit rose by 19 percent year on year to $865 million (RUB 58.3 billion) as higher average prices for gem-quality stones helped offset a drop in the volume of sales. Revenue increased by 8% to $2.5 billion (RUB 168 bn) on the back of higher average prices and a better sales mix, despite the 8% drop in sales by volume, with sales of gem-quality diamonds shrinking by 14%. ALROSA's EBITDA grew by 22% to $1.3 billion (RUB 89.1 bn), supported by higher top line and lower production costs.
Rising prices of rough and polished diamonds led to substantial value gains for Antwerp’s diamond trade in July, which surged during the weeks preceding its traditional August recess, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). Rough diamond imports surged by 23% and exports by 18% compared to the same month a year ago, while polished imports gained 28% in value and exports gained more than 8% compared to the month of July 2017.
Global rough diamond production in 2017 grew to levels not seen since 2008, and achieved its highest overall value since the Kimberley Process started gathering statistics in 2004 - and most likely the highest value ever for a single year of production. The volume of diamond output in 2017 surged by 19% to 150.9 million carats (126.4m cts in 2016), with the average price increasing 8% to $105 per carat.
Antwerp's polished diamond trade in June rode rising prices to another month of gains, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), as the Belgian polished trade reasserted its modest upward trend in 2018. The value of polished exports increased 4% year-over-year to $1.04 billion despite 6 percent decline in the volume of goods traded, backed by a 10% climb in average price per carat, to $2,395 from $2,183. The average price did fall short of a May high of $2,688 per carat, likely skewed by the value of goods flowing to Las Vegas for the JCK trade show.
Angolan President João Lourenço has vowed to reform Angola’s diamond industry, increasing its transparency in order to facilitate the exportation of goods, attract foreign investment and increase government revenue from the country's natural resources.
Angola’s Catoca, the world’s fifth largest diamond mine, estimates it lost $464 million over the past six years due to a government-imposed marketing system that obliged it to sell production below international prices, writes Reuters after having been shown in March a company presentation. President João Lourenço has vowed to reform Angola’s diamond industry, increasing its transparency in order to facilitate the exportation of goods and services and attract direct foreign investment, all in the interest delivering greater revenues from the country's natural resources.
Antwerp's polished diamond exports in May surged by 62% compared to April and increased 5% year-over-year, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), as the Belgian polished trade continues its modest 2018 climb. Polished exports rose to $1.18 billion from April, which achieved only $728.2 million, and outstripped May 2017 exports by $56.5 million. The rise was backed by a 13% increase over April in the number of carats exported, and a 4% increase compared to the same month a year ago.
The fact of the matter is, if you are not selling a diamond at international commercial tender in Antwerp, you are not achieving the best price. We’re achieving the best prices in the world for an alluvial diamond mine, so it’s not a bad start. But could you get more for your diamonds at international tender? The answer would be yes.
- Mark Drummond, Head of Investor Relations at Lucapa Diamonds, on Angola opening up diamond sales
De Beers Group today announced it has provisionally sold $550 million of rough diamonds for the fourth sales cycle of 2018 (Global Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales), against a backdrop of what has been called "record demand". De Beers published last week a report stating that diamond jewelry demand rose to a record $82bn globally in 2017 after several years of stagnation.
In his latest article, independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky takes a look at, "Why Rough Diamond Prices are at a 52-week High".
Although the sales figures have yet to arrive, and the prices are not made public, Bloomberg's Thomas Biesheuvel has it from "people familiar with the matter" that De Beers has raised its rough diamond prices for the second consecutive cycle. He writes, "De Beers lifted prices between 1 percent and 2 percent, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. The company raised prices a similar amount in its previous sale at the end of February.
Australia's Lucapa Diamond Co., with assets in Angola, Lesotho, Australia and Botswana, has announced in its Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2017 that diamond sales fell 38% to $31.6 million last year compared with $51 million a year earlier, though the 2016 figures are skewed by the $16 million sale of Angola's largest ever rough diamond, the 404-carat 4th February Stone.
The De Beers Group today announced its annual results for 2017, showing high volumes of production and sales offset by a lower value mix of goods, leading to a 4% reduction in total revenue to $5.8 billion from $6.1 billion 2016.
Angola produced 9.44 million carats of diamonds last year, a 5 percent increase from the 9.02 million carats produced in 2016, based on data presented by the country’s Ministry of Mineral Resources, reports Rough & Polished from the Mining Indaba in South Africa. Rough diamond sales earned $1.102 billion in revenue, a 2 percent increase from 2016, as the average price per carat dropped 2.4 percent to $116.76 per carat compared with $119.65 per carat in 2016.
According to statistics from the Bank of Botswana, Botswana’s rough diamond exports fell by 13 percent in 2017 to $3.48 billion compared to $4.02 billion a year ago due to weak prices comparative to 2016, and weaker demand particularly in the second half of the year. While Botswana’s Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) - which sells 15% of Debswana's production - posted a 4 percent jump in sales to $567 million in 2017, De Beers’ rough diamond sales fell 5% to an estimated $5.31 billion last year.
At its first sale of 2018 that closed on Friday, January 26 in Antwerp, Canadian miner Stornoway Diamond Corp. sold 138,687 carats for gross proceeds of US$14.4 million at an average price of US$104 per carat. This is the highest price achieved to date. The company says the result reflects a strengthening diamond market at the beginning of the year and appreciable improvements in breakage levels, size distribution and quality mix.
Firestone Diamonds, which mines the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho (75% Firestone, 25% government of Lesotho) saw production decline somewhat in the second fiscal quarter ended 31 December 2017, as the average price achieved increased. 180,709 carats were recovered (Q1: 199,007 carats), reflecting the treatment of ore from a lower grade block resulting in a lower grade achieved of 18.8 cpht (Q1: 21.1cpht). However, the miner expects to see an increase in grade in the second half of FY2018 as mining moves to higher grade areas of the pit.
In its first full year of commercial production at the Renard Diamond Mine in Quebec, Stornoway Diamond Corp. produced 1.64 million carats from processing 1.96 million tons of ore with an attributable grade of 84 cpht, compared to a plan of 1.69 mcts from 2.00 mtons at 85 cpht (97%, 98% and 99% of targets respectively).
According to preliminary figures released today, ALROSA’s rough and polished diamond sales for the year 2017 amounted to US$4.27 billion, a 5% decline from the US$4.49 billion in overall sales in 2016 despite an estimated 5% increase in rough diamond production. The Russian mining giant provisionally sold $4.17 billion in rough diamonds compared to $4.34 billion in 2016. They sold US$96.9 million in polished diamonds on the year.
Mountain Province Diamonds in December sold 364,000 carats at the tenth tender of rough diamonds from the Gahcho Kué mine, in which it has a 49% share - De Beers owns the 51% - at an average price of $53 per carat, for a total of $19.1 million.
Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published a wide-ranging article comprised of quick diamond-industry stats and trends: "2018 Global Diamond Industry Primer". Here he lays out the current situation and developments as we bring the 2017 diamond year to a close, and identifies what to look out for in the year ahead.
Bain & Company, together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has published their seventh annual report on the global diamond industry, "The enduring story in a changing world", covering industry developments in 2016 and the first half of 2017 as well as the challenges the industry faces and how it is turning them into opportunities. Their report looks at key issues along the value chain, from rough-diamond production and sales, to midstream performance and global diamond jewelry demand in major markets.
De Beers Group has announced that its Auction Sales business is to transition Fixed-Price Forward Contracts to core business status, following the success of the pilot program that was launched in January 2017. Fixed-Price Forward Contracts offer the opportunity for Auction Sales customers to secure guaranteed access to bespoke future supply contracts, with certainty over the price to be paid when each contract reaches maturity.
Firestone Diamonds commenced production at the Liqhobong diamond mine in Lesotho in October 2016, developing the new mine on time and under budget and hitting its early operational targets; however, lower than expected diamond prices achieved have forced the young miner to revise their plan. They held their first sale in Antwerp in February 2017, and on 30 June 2017 achieved commercial production. In late September, they reported they have sold all 505,706 carats recovered, for US$41.3 million, at an average value of US$82/ct.
Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond with operations in Botswana made several announcements yesterday (Nov. 2), starting with news of its positive Preliminary Economic Assessment for taking its Karowe Mine underground, which would extend the life of the mine another ten years to approximately 2036.
The Bureau d'Évaluation et de Contrôle de Diamant et d'Or (BECDOR) in the Central African Republic, which oversees the country’s production and trade of diamond and gold, maintains a database and assesses the value of diamond parcels that are to be exported from the country, has just set up a new price list - defining mineral prices between government and traders. The new price list for these mineral resources is designed to enable the State to have enough financial resources to meet its obligations, reports APA News (Agence de Presse Africaine).
The trend of high volumes of lower-priced rough diamond exports from Antwerp that started in full force during May continued to define the rough trade through the third quarter (July-Sept.), while the diamond capital’s polished trade recorded somewhat soft results. According to figures published by the AWDC, on a year-over-year basis, the volume of rough diamond exports during the quarter increased nearly 12%, totaling over 27 million carats, while their value actually declined by 13% to $2.7 billion. The volume of rough imports also increased 1.5% while their value also tumbled by 13%.