Debswana, the joint venture between the Botswana government and Anglo American’s De Beers unit, intends to invest US$6 billion to build the world’s largest underground diamond mine at Botswana’s Jwaneng. The mine is already considered the richest mine by value for the precious stones. The underground mine will have more than 360 km of tunnel development and is expected to hit full production by 2034, Debswana’s head of transformation and innovation, Thabo Balopi, said at a briefing in the capital, Gaborone, last Friday.
During the height of the pandemic, diamond producers faced stockpile build-ups when the world came to a standstill, stoking fears that gems amassed by miners could hurt the sector for years to come. In the ensuing months' excessive demand from manufacturers, traders, and jewelers have all but wiped out the stash. All this as demand for luxury sales, including diamond jewelry, jumped as consumers were unable to travel. Remarkably producers such as De Beers and Alrosa have since raised their prices for rough.
To enhance the use of data and ensure customers create value from the rough they buy, De Beers wants to introduce a tracking program for the diamonds it supplies to sightholders. In its new supply contract the company will ask manufacturers to share the outcome of the polished yield, reports Rapaport News. This would allow the miner to verify that the rough sold to manufacturers had been polished by them, rather than sold to a third party. Additionally, it would enable source verification and market intelligence.
Rapaport reports that prices at De Beers' latest sight were up significantly, 2-4% in the 1 to 2 carat sizes and even a steep 10% in the 5-10ct stones, the third consecutive price hike the miner implemented at its sights. While official results of this cycle have not yet been announced, insiders say sales have been thriving as much as they did at the December in January sights, when rough purchases were spurred by low inventory levels following the 2020 holiday season and continued demand in view of the Chinese New Year and Valentines Day.
While the pandemic has led to a flurry of engagements, the $73 billion wedding industry has had a considerable shake-up. With wedding plans abruptly being upended, many couples have had to make some tough choices. According to an article published in The Washington Post, couples are considering having a smaller wedding now – with guests attending either in-person or virtually-, postponing to a later date or canceling the plans altogether.
In January De Beers’ rough diamond sales reached $650 million, the highest monthly total since 2018. This was in part due to manufacturers replenishing their stock following the holiday season. Despite the company's recent price increase in rough diamonds, revenue is up 18% y-o-y, and 44% above the $452 million it reported in December 2020.
Mining company De Beers has launched an ambitious vision to reach 12 milestone KPI's, three in each of four key area's - Thriving Communities, Ethical Practices, Protecting Nature and Equal Opportunities, to be achieved by 2030.
By 2030 De Beers wants to
In its recurring Diamond Insight Report, De Beers Group released new results from ongoing consumer and retail research, especially focusing on the effect of the pandemic.
Rapaport News reports that the Holiday Season rush is boosting markets, demonstrated by a rebound in De Beers third quarter sales, up to 6.6m ct in Q3, compared to barely 300k sold ct in Q2, at the height of the global pandemic. Rapaport calculates that sales increased 10% y-o-y, reflecting pent up demand and easing restrictions in trade and manufacturing hubs across the globe.
De Beers reports selling US$467m worth or rough diamonds at its latest sales cycle, 57% more than the same sales period in 2019, 40% higher than the previous sale, further confirming rough demand has picked up significantly in view of the holiday season. The miner, who discounted prices by 5 to 10% according to industry insiders, went through several months of near zero sales, at the peak of the pandemic's first wave, and implemented maximum flexiblity to its long-term customers. In the latest cycle, it also extended the usual one-week sales momentum to more than 3 weeks.
De Beers' LGD jewelry line, Lightbox Jewelry is expanding its scope and will now be sold in 28 additional stores of 10 independent retailers in the US and Canada. Since its launch, Lightbox has been priced uniformly at US$800 per carat. In an interview with JCK News, Nick Smart, the company's commercial director commented that Lightbox products offer "an attractive margin" for the retailer and that in the LGD space, prices have already come down significantly, close to the level of Lightbox' pricing model.
On its social media channels, De Beers Group announces its next cycle auction sales will start on September 24, featuring a wide variety of goods, including fancy color lots.
After major miners De Beers and Alrosa announced price cuts, Bloomberg reports that the combined sales of their recent long-term client sales amounted to US$500 million, in stark contrast with the near-zero sales of the past six months, as the pandemic broke out and both companies decided to maintain pricing but maximize flexibility to their clients to defer contract purchases.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, in the 2nd half of 2020, De Beers' sales could rebound to US$1.6 billion, a recovery they believe will be driven by the holiday season, traditionally a strong sales period. The miner, for 85% owned by Anglo American, clocked an EBITDA of only US$2 million in the first half of the year, as De Beers' sales of rough diamonds dropped to nearly zero due to the global pandemic.
A recent survey, conducted by De Beers, gauging consumer sentiment among 2,800 men and women aged 20 to 65 with household incomes of at least US$75k or similar parameters in the US, India and China, concludes that while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh heavy on sentiment, respondents feel they are returning to (a new) normal and regaining confidence, with the most positive feedback coming from Chinese respondents.
Bloomberg reports that in a letter to De Beers' staff, seen by Bloomberg News, the company's CEO, Bruce Cleaver, has communicated the company is looking into ways to reduce costs and increase revenue across all operations. Sales have dropped dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic and the company fears demand for diamonds is not likely to improve in the short term. According to Bloomberg, insiders believe the restructuring could also involve job cuts and changes to the traditional selling system of sights and sightholders.
For the sixth sight of the year, De Beers will continue to offer their clients the possibility to view goods in Antwerp and also Dubai, starting on Monday. Alrosa announced earlier this week it will drop mandatory buyout minimum requirements for the July sale, also starting on Monday, and as of August, the volumes will be reduced to 50% leaving clients the option to purchase additional goods via auctions and tenders.
De Beers is currently holding its 5th cycle sight viewings in Antwerp, a new initiative allowing sightholders who wish to do so, to view the goods outside of the usual sights held in Gaborone, Botswana. The goods will continue to be sold from Botswana, but the country has closed its borders for foreigners, forcing De Beers to literally think outside of the box. As the city is home to a large number of De Beers Sightholders, Antwerp is the first location to have such viewings.
According to Reuters, De Beers, together with the government of Botswana is looking into (temporarily) shifting its sight viewings from Gaborone, Botswana, to major trading hubs, closer to their clients, for example in Antwerp. Reuters cites De Beers Executive Vice President, Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley; “If we can move our product closer to them it would give us the flexibility to restart sales as soon as the markets reopen”.
De Beers has launched its online "Buy platform", a segment of the De Beers Group Auctiones, where Registered Buyers can now buy rough diamonds online. The platform works like any other e-commerce platform, where buyers can search, "view" and select goods, add them to their shopping cart and complete their purchase via a virtual checkout. In addition buyers can create favorite products, which are assorted in four categories; "very high-end", "high-end", "mid market" and "low-end".
"Can't an overflowing river upstream, cause a lot of damage, from the midstream all the way up to the delta? As the crops along the overflown river's path would be washed out, wouldn't this cause a lot of famine, for an unwanted period of time? Shouldn't the flow be controlled before such a scenario happens? Sometimes, man-made dams are necessary, with some pains in the near future, but fertile and fruitful in the long run..."
De Beers has announced that their first quarter 2020 rough diamond production was in line with Q1 2019 and Q4 2020 output, ending at 7.8 million carats. The miner noted a limited impact from the COVID-19 measures introduced at the end of the quarter in producer countries. Nonetheless, De Beers has revised its production guidance downward by over 20% to 25-27 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats), citing the impact of COVID-19 on mining operations, wholesale trading activity and consumer traffic in key consumer markets.
Diamond mining company De Beers announced that its Chief Financial Officer, Nimesh Patel will be joining Spirax-Sacro Engineering. Patel will leave the company at the end of July, a successor remains to be named.
The lockdowns and social distancing measures introduced in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced many if not most businesses to close and educational courses to be delayed. This has spurred industry organizations and associations to take action and set up initiatives to help people through the crisis. As of today, De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds is offering their Diamond Foundation Course for free (normally $250) to the diamond industry.
De Beers has cancelled its third rough diamond sale (sight) of 2020 in response to the logistical difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. "Due to the public health restrictions on the movement of people and product in Botswana, South Africa and India, which prohibit customers from traveling and prevent the shipment of goods to customers’ international operations, De Beers Group will not hold its third Sight of 2020," the miner wrote in a press release.
De Beers third sight (rough diamond sale) of 2020, scheduled for March 30 to April 3 in Gaborone, will go ahead as planned despite Botswana’s announcement of a travel ban on foreigners arriving from “high risk” countries that include Belgium, China and India. Many of the companies that participate in De Beers’ sales are headquartered in these countries.
The optimism at the beginning of the year regarding improved demand for rough diamonds has shifted to uncertainty following the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus; as expected, De Beers' sales at the second sight of the year took a nosedive, ending at a provisional $355 million. That result is 36% off the pace of their first sale of the year ($551 million) and 28% lower than the $496 earned at the second sight of 2019.
At meetings in Botswana coinciding with its second rough diamond 'sight' of 2020, De Beers detailed to clients its plans to scrap the one-size-fits-all supply model and create three different types of contract: manufacturer contracts, dealer contracts and integrated retailer contracts, a company representative explained to us. Each type of contract is said to be designed around the broad needs of the three types of business model to which they apply. The move is designed to help the diamond miner ensure that each buyer gets the stones most suited to its needs and business type.
De Beers Group reported its preliminary 2019 financial results today (Feb.20), confirming the already well-documented declines experienced across the global rough diamond trade in 2019. The average price earned per carat and a decline in sales volumes were the obvious and main culprits, but these were just the visible results of a whole raft of challenges the world's most famous miner faced last year - along with the rest of the industry - starting with the oversupply of polished in the manufacturing and midstream segments.
Until now, De Beers' laboratory-grown diamond jewelry brand Lightbox has issued no grading reports about its diamonds, enabling it to keep its pricing is straightforward ($800 a carat, $400 for a half carat, $200 for a quarter carat). De Beers says it approach the product in this way because man-made stones are mass-produced and do not deserve the individual attention that mined diamonds get.
Indian diamond manufacturer and exporter Star Rays announced it is working towards becoming India’s first carbon-neutral diamond company, highlighting its commitment to sustainable business practices.
Botswana reportedly plans to conclude negotiations with De Beers on a diamond sales agreement by the end of April to replace the current 10-year deal that expires in January, write Matthew Hill and Mbongeni Mguni for Bloomberg.
De Beers Group today announced the successful conclusion of its patent infringement action against IIa Technologies in Singapore, which was found to have infringed Element Six synthetic diamond patent. IIa Technologies was found by The High Court of Singapore to have infringed an Element Six patent for proprietary synthetic diamond products and their method of manufacture, confirming the validity of Element Six's patent and reinforcing the business’s intention to defend its intellectual property (IP) rights.
In a wide-ranging keynote address at the African Mining Indaba taking place this week in Cape Town, Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani laid out his vision for the mining industry and the steps it must take to "connect the future of mining with emerging and next-generation societal values. These are the values of increased transparency, responsible technological innovation, sustainability and shared prosperity, all of which are emergent in our world and are shaping a very different future society."
De Beers Group Industry Services has announced a new collaboration with leading US wholesaler, RDI Diamonds Inc., to become its premier source of diamond grading reports, the company stated in a press release. It will be the first time De Beers has provided grading services in the US.
As anticipated, De Beers first rough diamond sight of 2020 bounced back to historical levels, earning $545 million (provisional result) at their January sale. The January sale is typically one of the largest of the year as the industry replenishes their stocks following the holiday season and the 2020 iteration did not disappoint.
Mountain Province Diamonds turned in a very strong production performance at the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada, particularly in the fourth quarter, but a 15% decline in the average price achieved for their rough diamonds over the course of 2019 dragged their proceeds down. A slightly lower recovery grade also curtailed their carat recovery, which ended just below 2018 levels.
De Beers Group Q4 rough diamond production decreased by 15 percent to 7.8 million carats from 9.1 carats a year earlier, driven by lower production levels in South Africa and Botswana, the company announced this morning.
Angola's industrial diamond miners produced 9.09 million carats in 2019, a decline of 5% on the year. Adding semi-industrial production to industrial output, the total was 9.12 million carats. The figures came courtesy of Ganga Júnior, the president of Angola’s state diamond exploration, mining and licensing company, Endiama. He attributed the declline (4.8% the actual figure cited) to the closure of a diamond mine. He said the semi-industrial diamond sector had accounted for the production of 35,856 carats last year.
De Beers might "significantly reduce" its number of sightholders and could be introducing changes to the way it allocates and sells its rough diamonds, according to Thomas Biesheuvel of Bloomberg. The miner's current six-year contract with buyers expires at the end of 2020.