Sales from the Grib diamond mine in Russia were flat at $300 million in 2018 as prices of smaller stones faltered.
“Grib Diamonds rough is concentrated by value in the smaller end, which was under pressure from mid-2018,” Antony Dear, head of sales at the mine’s marketing unit, Grib Diamonds, told Rapaport News Tuesday. “Our prices reflect this, and were overall down on a like-for-like basis, [by] high single digits.”
Production increased 14% in 2018, working out to approximately 5 million carats based on last year’s yield of 4.4 million carats. Sales volume was approximately the same as production, Dear added, although the company declined to give an exact figure.
White melee diamonds and goods in the 1- to 2-carat range and above sold well, the company noted. However, Grib saw low prices for yellow stones and smalls (-11), while demand for large fancy stones grew.
The company plans to maintain a steady production level in 2019, but would like a bigger proportion of that to be large stones over 10.8 carats. It plans to invest in technology that will prevent larger stones from being broken during the extraction process, as well as improve its recovery levels for smaller stones. The company will also introduce other strategies to lift future output.
“The mine is currently looking into what measures can be taken to increase production both from within and without the existing mine property,” Dear added. “[We] plan to improve production of [our] existing deposit [through a] change in the parameters of the existing open pit, as well as conduct exploration programs in the region.”
The Grib mine is owned by Otkritie Holdings, a Russian holding company that purchased it from Lukoil for $1.45 billion in 2017. While 5% of production remains in Russia for sale by the government, the remainder is exported to Antwerp, where Grib Diamonds is located.
Image: Rough diamonds from the Grib mine. (Grib Diamonds)