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De Beers diamond sales up 26 pc in 2011 as production dips

13 february 2012

De Beers said its total diamond sales leaped 26 percent to $7.4 billion for the year ended December 2011 from last year’s $5.9 billion.
It said in a statement that sales of rough diamonds by the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) also increased 27 percent to $6.5 billion (including those through joint ventures).
The group said although 2011 was a year of “dichotomy”, consumer demand growth of between 11 percent and 13 percent was recorded over the full year.
"A year of two halves, H1 2011 saw exceptional consumer demand growth which, when coupled with lower than historical levels of global diamond production, resulted in very strong polished and rough diamond price growth,” De Beers said.
“During H2, both retail and cutting centre sentiment was impacted by the challenging macro-economic environment, restricted liquidity (particularly in dollars) in the cutting centres and a slowdown in the rate of growth of consumer demand at retail.
“As a result, during the latter half of the year, De Beers experienced lower levels of demand for its rough diamonds and prices receded slightly from the highs seen in the middle of the year.”
Meanwhile, De Beers said its full year production dropped 5 percent to 31.3 million carats from the previous year’s 33.0 million carats.
The diamond miner said it produced 15.5 million carats during the first half of the year in spite of a number of challenges – including heavy rainfall in southern Africa, maintenance backlogs, poor contractor performance, skills shortages, and protracted labour negotiations.
During the second half, De Beers said, it produced another 15.8 million carats despite a shift of its operational focus, in light of prevailing rough diamond market trends.
“De Beers utilised this period to address maintenance and waste stripping backlogs in order to better position the mines to increase their rate of production as demand from sightholders increases,” it said.
“This is likely to continue for several months into 2012.”

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished