London—De Beers’ diamond production has topped 15 million carats so far this year, putting it on pace with the amount it was mining pre-pandemic.
The company reported Tuesday that second quarter 2021 production totaled 8.2 million carats, more than double what it was in the second quarter 2020 (3.5 million carats) amid COVID-19 lockdowns across southern Africa, and up 6 percent versus the second quarter 2019 (7.7 million carats).
Production rose 214 percent year-over-year in Botswana to 5.7 million carats and 130 percent in South Africa to 1.3 million carats, but fell 6 percent in Namibia to 338,000 carats. The Mafuta marine mining vessel was undergoing maintenance, which was completed in Q2, and another vessel remains out of service.
In Canada, production was up 14 percent to 900,000 carats, also due to COVID-19 cutback measures taken in Q2 2020.
Year-to-date, De Beers has mined 15.4 million carats of diamonds, 37 percent ahead of where it was at this point last year (11.3 million carats) and flat when compared with 2019 (15. 6 million carats).
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De Beers said diamond jewelry continues to sell, leading to strong demand for rough diamonds from cutting and polishing centers.
Its rough diamond sales totaled 7.3 million carats from two sights in Q2, reflecting the impact of the reduced midstream capacity in India due to the second wave of COVID in April and May, and 13.5 million carats from three sights in Q1.
De Beers said since the start of the year its rough diamond price index has increased 14 percent following the declines last year.
The company made the same observation Alrosa did in reporting its Q2 results
earlier this week—low inventories and high demand are driving up rough prices.
Looking ahead, De Beers tightened its production outlook slightly, projecting a total of 32-33 million carats mined this year, down from the previous projection of 32-34 million.
The outlook is subject to market conditions and any further COVID-related disruptions.