Diamond Production, Sales Down for De Beers

Diamond Production, Sales Down for De Beers

This file photo provided by De Beers shows Damtshaa, a satellite operation of the Orapa Mine in South Africa. Damtshaa is one of the sites that has been placed on care and maintenance as De Beers reduces diamond production at mines worldwide.

London–De Beers’ parent company Anglo American announced Friday that diamond production fell by double-digit percentages in both the fourth quarter and full year, as it has scaled back operations due to muted demand worldwide.

De Beers mined a total of 7.1 million carats of diamonds in the fourth quarter 2015, compared with 8.4 million carats a year ago, a decrease of 16 percent. 

In Botswana, production fell 21 percent. Production in Namibia and Canada also was reduced, dropping 18 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

The only unit of De Beers to report an increase in fourth-quarter production was DBCM (De Beers Consolidated Mines, which operates in South Africa), though diamond mining there increased only “marginally.” 

De Beers recently has shuttered or sold a number of mining sites worldwide, the largest of which was the Snap Lake Mine in Canada. Work there has been halted indefinitely while De Beers determines if mining there is worthwhile going forward.

The company also has placed Damtshaa, a satellite operation of South Africa’s Orapa Mine, on care and maintenance and recently completed the sale of its oldest mining site, the Kimberley Mines in South Africa, to Ekapa Minerals (Pty) Ltd.

For the full year, De Beers’ diamond production dropped 12 percent, from 32.6 million carats in 2014 to 28.7 million carats in 2015.

The volume of rough diamond sales also declined by double digits in 2015, dropping 39 percent year-over-year as sightholders rejected goods due to the overstocked pipeline and poor trading conditions. 

De Beers’ parent company Anglo American is in the midst of a major overhaul designed to cut losses caused by falling commodity prices.

It will shed 85,000 jobs over the next few years and sell off its coal and copper mining operations as it restructures into three business units, one of which is Diamonds.

The company also plans to relocate its London headquarters in 2017, moving in with De Beers at 17 Charterhouse St.