De Beers has reported that rough diamond production decreased by 14% to 6.7 million carats (Q4 2020), driven by continued planned reductions in response to the lower demand for rough diamonds caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and operational challenges at Orapa that led to lower than expected production.
Covid-19 related measures remain in place to safeguard the workforce while maintaining operational continuity.
In Botswana, production decreased by 28% to 4.3 million carats, driven by the planned treatment of lower grade material at Jwaneng, where production decreased by 56%. This was partly offset by a 9% increase at Orapa due to a planned improvement in grade, despite a slower than anticipated plant restart in December following scheduled maintenance, as well as power supply interruptions affecting plant availability.
Namibia production decreased by 26% to 0.3 million carats as the majority of the marine fleet remobilised during Q4, following the Q3 stoppage.
South African production increased to 1.3 million carats due to the expected improvement in ore grade from the last cut of the open pit at Venetia as the mine continues to transition to underground operations.
Production in Canada decreased by 23% to 0.8 million carats, as maintenance resulted in lower plant throughput.
Demand for rough diamonds showed positive trends in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the indications are that encouraging levels of consumer demand for diamond jewellery continued during the holiday season in the US, while China also performed well.
Rough diamond sales totalled 6.9 million carats (6.4 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two sights, compared with 6.6 million carats (6.5 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three sights in Q3 2020, and 7.0 million carats (6.6 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two sights in Q4 2019.
The full year consolidated average realised price decreased by 3% to $133/ct (2019: $137/ct), as a 10% reduction in the average rough price index was partly offset by an increased proportion of higher value rough diamonds sold in 2020.
Production guidance is revised to 32-34 million carats (previously 33-35 million carats) (100% basis), subject to trading conditions, due to ongoing operational challenges and lower expected production from the final cut at Venetia.