A drop in the recovery of large stones and a decline in the average price achieved for rough from the Letšeng mine led to a decline in sales for Gem Diamonds in 2019.
Proceeds fell 32% to $182.1 million, the miner said last week, with sales volume slumping 11% to 111,291 carats. The average price plunged 23% to $1,637 per carat, while production went down 10% to 113,974 carats for the year.
Gem Diamonds recovered 11 diamonds greater than 100 carats during the year, compared with 15 in 2018.
Despite a weak 2019 performance, the miner recorded strong results in the fourth quarter as revenue increased 23% year on year to $51.3 million for the three-months ending December 31. A 36% jump in the average price to $1,713 outweighed a 10% drop in sales volume to 29,945 carats. Nearly one-third of sales value was attributed to seven diamonds that were sold for more than $1 million apiece, garnering $15.6 million.
Gem Diamonds unearthed four diamonds greater than 100 carats in the fourth quarter, versus three during the same period the previous year.
The upturn in sales and a higher average price in the fourth quarter signified a return to a stronger market for rough, noted Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick.
“Letšeng delivered solid operational results [in the fourth quarter],” he added. “This…positions the company well for the anticipated upturn in the market, which appears to have begun.”
The positive trend has continued in 2020, with the company’s first tender achieving $1,753 per carat, he said. This sale did not include the 183-, 89- and 70-carat diamonds the miner found earlier this month.
Gem Diamonds’ stock increased 3.4% in early trading following the results.
Image: The Letšeng mine. (Gem Diamonds)