De Beers rough diamond sales slumped 40 percent to 20.6 million carats in 2015 as market weakness and lower diamond manufacturing levels took their toll.
The decline in sales volume coincides with a 12 percent drop in production to 28.7 million carats over the previous year as the miner reduced rough output in response to trading conditions, according to a statement by parent Anglo American January 28.
The result is just shy of production guidance of about 29 million carats. The company originally forecast 32 million to 34 million carats in output for the year, but cut its forward estimates several times as market conditions deteriorated.
The overall reduction is mainly due to reduced output from Debswana, De Beers partner in Botswana, where production dropped 16 percent to 20.4 million carats. The company also has mining units in South Africa, Namibia and Canada.
The miner has already guided towards further reduced production in 2016 of 26 million to 28 million carats. The company recently completed the sale of its Kimberley mine in South Africa and has ceased mining at Snap Lake in Canada. De Beers also said December 8 it would reduce production from the Botswana-located Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines – putting Damtshaa into care and maintenance – and produce more from the country’s Jwaneng mine.
During the fourth quarter that ended December 31, sales volume plummeted 55 percent year on year to 3.6 million carats, while production fell 16 percent to 7.1 million carats. Compared with the previous quarter, output advanced 17 percent and sales volume increased 20 percent. The company did not provide sales data by value.
The figures come after De Beers announced an improvement in revenue from the first sales cycle of 2016 over the final cycle of 2015. De Beers sold $540 million worth of rough diamonds at the January sight and to its auction clients and in internal sales to De Beers government and local partners. This compared with $248 million in December.
Anglo American is scheduled to publish De Beers full earnings report on February 16.