Revenue from Rio Tinto’s diamond division slid 1.6% to $695 million in 2018, the miner reported Wednesday.
The diamond unit’s profit rose 28% to $118 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 4.9% to $301 million.
Diamond production fell 15% to 18.4 million carats for the year, with output slipping at both its mines. Carat recovery at its Argyle deposit in Australia dropped 18%, after enhanced production from the processing of higher-grade alluvial tailings had boosted output in 2017. Production declined by 3% at the Diavik mine in Canada.
“The global supply of natural rough diamonds in 2018 was lower than 2017,” the company said. “We expect this trend to continue into 2019, as new sources of supply are unable to satisfy growing demand.”
During the year, Rio Tinto completed development of the A21, a fourth diamond pipe at Diavik, which is now at full production capacity. However, the miner expects output to fall to between 15 million and 17 million carats in 2019.
Image: Miners in the Diavik underground deposit. (Rio Tinto)