The demand for polished diamonds is expected to be marginal during the rest of the year, supported mainly by the US, China and India. De Beers Group Executive Head, Strategy and Corporate Affairs, Gareth Mostyn, said America remains a key market for polished diamonds, accounting for 50 percent of the world market for polished diamonds. Mostyn was speaking during a roundtable on Thursday to present De Beers interim financial results for the first half of the year. While the US has been a key market, a further marginal growth is expected for the full year and the Chinese market is said to have so far seen positive growth following increase in sales over the Chinese New Year. Mostyn said global macro-economic conditions indicate marginal consumer demand growth for polished diamonds and such factors include US and China government policies on exchange rates. Consumer demand in key markets is also expected to impact on midstream demand for rough diamonds and until now De Beers says midstream sentiment remains positive. The group says there has been a healthy demand for its rough diamonds, supported by the Q4 2016 retail season and demonetisation impact being less than predicted. De Beers, which sells its diamonds to select buyers known as sight holders, holds sights per year and has already conducted five which bared mixed results in terms of sales value.
De Beers, a unit of multinational mining group, Anglo American, forecasts diamond production for 2017 to range between 31-33 million carats. Those carats are drawn from various mines across the world, including from Debswana mines in Botswana, South Africa, Canada and Namibia with diamonds aggregated in Gaborone. The majority of that is expected to come from Debswana mines, in particular Jwaneng mine through the ore from Cut-8. During the second quarter of 2017, carats recovered from Debswana mines stood at 5.9 million, a 14 percent increase in comparison to the same period last year. The bulk of that was recovered from Jwaneng and Orapa mines while Letlhakane produced only 102, 000 carats. Through the Cut-8, Jwaneng is expected to become Debswana’s main source of ore from 2018 onwards after the first ore extracted through the project was processed in June this year. The project, which Debswana embarked on in 2010, is expected to extend the mine’s lifespan at least until 2035 by increasing the depth of the mine from 400 metres to 650 metres and expose an estimated 93 million carats of high-quality diamonds from 84 million tonnes of ore. According to Mostyn, pre-feasibility studies for Cut-9 are already underway to determine key decisions, including size, timeframes, amount to be mined, likely cost as well as employment requirements. At Orapa, another key mine for Debswana, pre-feasibility studies are also underway to look at a potential Cut-3 pushback, results of which will inform the various parameters, including timeframes. Mining operations at Orapa are currently focused on Cut-2.