Q1 Diamond Production Up 25% for De Beers

SourcingApr 25, 2022

Q1 Diamond Production Up 25% for De Beers

Rio Tinto, meanwhile, saw production slip due in part to COVID-related employee absences.

An aerial view of Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Rio Tinto saw first-quarter production decline 2 percent due in part to COVID-19 complications, while De Beers Group’s production rose 25 percent.
New York—De Beers Group recorded a double-digit increase in diamond production to start the year, while COVID-19 complications hampered operations at Rio Tinto’s only remaining diamond mine.

First-quarter production for De Beers totaled 8.9 million carats, up 25 percent from Q1 2021 (7.2 million carats) and 16 percent when compared with the previous quarter (Q4 2021, at 7.7 million carats).

South Africa, where De Beers has just one mine now, Venetia, posted the highest year-over-year production increase at 46 percent due to treatment of higher-grade ore from the final cut of the open pit.

Production in Namibia was up 33 percent primarily due to higher recovery from Namdeb’s ocean crawler vessels, with less planned maintenance on the Mafuta and the new diamond recovery vessel, the $420 million Benguela Gem, rolling out earlier than expected.

Production in Botswana, where De Beers operates with the government as Debswana, rose 25 percent from increased processing at Orapa and Jwaneng, as well as planned higher grades. 

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The only country to record a decline in first-quarter diamond production for De Beers was Canada.

Production at the company’s only mine there, Gahcho Kué, fell 15 percent as a result of treating lower-grade ore.

In the release for its Q1 production results, De Beers shared the same sentiment it did when reporting its most recent rough diamond sales.

Demand for rough diamonds has remained robust in 2022, it said, but current events, including the war in Ukraine and recent COVID-19 outbreaks in China, have diamond companies on alert going into Q2.

“As we head into the seasonally slower second quarter of the year, diamond businesses are adopting a more cautious and watchful approach in light of the war in Ukraine and associated sanctions, as well as the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns in China,” De Beers said. 

The company’s production guidance for the year remains unchanged at 30-33 million carats.
For Rio Tinto, which owns and operates the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada, issues around COVID-19 hampered first-quarter production.

The miner recovered 991,000 carats at Diavik, down 1.6 percent when compared with the first quarter 2021 (1 million carats) and 14 percent from the previous quarter (Q4 2021, 1.2 million carats).

Rio Tinto said COVID-related employee absences and an unplanned outage that impacted processing affected its first-quarter results.

Despite the slow start, the miner’s guidance still calls for Diavik’s production to top last year’s, totaling between 5-6 million carats, compared with 3.8 million carats in 2021.

Diavik is Rio Tinto’s only active diamond mine. It took 100 percent ownership of the mine in November 2021.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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