De Beers’ rough diamond production increased by 25 percent to 8.9 million carats in the first quarter of 2022 (q1 2022), reflecting a strong operational performance, and higher planned levels of production to meet continued strong demand for rough diamonds, De Beers’ mother company Anglo American has revealed.
According to Anglo, the increase also factors in the fact that Q1 2021 was impacted by particularly high rainfall in Botswana and at Venetia.
In Botswana, production increased by 25 percent to 6.2 million carats from increased processing at both Orapa and Jwaneng, as well as planned higher grades across the operations. Namibia production increased by 33 percent to 0.5 million carats which Anglo notes was primarily driven by higher recovery from the crawler vessels, due to lower planned maintenance of the Mafuta and the early delivery of the new diamond recovery vessel, the Benguela Gem.
South Africa production increased by 46 percent to 1.7 million carats ascribed to the treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the open pit. Production in Canada decreased by 15 percent to 0.6 million carats, primarily as a result of treating lower grade ore. Anglo says robust demand for rough diamonds continued into the first quarter following strong growth in consumer demand over the holiday season, with rough diamond sales totalling 7.9 million carats (7.0 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two Sights, compared with 13.5 million carats (12.7 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three Sights in Q1 2021, and 7.7 million carats (7.2 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three Sights in Q4 2021. “However, 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,” Anglo wrote in a quarterly report. “Production guidance for 2022 is unchanged at 30–33 million carats, subject to trading conditions and the extent of further COVID-19 related disruptions.”
De Beers Group recently announced it has signed two Mineral Investment Contracts (MICs) with the Government of Angola for licence areas in north-eastern Angola. The signing of the MICs follows the announcement in late 2021 that De Beers had applied to explore in Angola following substantive reforms in the country’s diamond sector.
According to the miner, the MICs for the two licence areas are for the award and exercise of mineral rights covering all stages of diamond resource development, from exploration to mining, and span a period of 35 years. Each concession area will be held by a separate new joint venture company formed by De Beers Group and Endiama, Angola’s state-owned diamond company. De Beers says it will hold a substantial majority in the new companies, with Endiama having the ability to incrementally increase its equity share over time in line with certain conditions outlined in the shareholder agreements, albeit with De Beers Group maintaining a substantial majority.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “The signing of these contracts represents an important milestone in our new partnership with Angola, which is based on a mutual desire to build a thriving diamond sector that delivers meaningful socioeconomic benefit for Angola’s citizens. Angola has worked hard in recent years to create a stable and attractive investment environment and we are pleased to be returning to active exploration in the country. Angola remains highly prospective and we look forward to being part of this next stage in the development of Angola’s diamond sector.”
Following the signing of the MICs, and subject to the fulfilment of relevant regulatory conditions, De Beers Group expects to commence exploration activities in the licence areas this year. Any resource development beyond exploration will depend on the outcome of exploration activities and the economic potential of the diamond deposit.