By Brecken Branstrator
De Beers said rough diamond production was 8.5 million carats in the first quarter, a 15 percent increase when compared with the year-earlier period.
New York—De Beers and Alrosa both recently released production numbers for the first quarter of 2018, but reported very different results.

De Beers said rough diamond production increased 15 percent to 8.5 million carats in the first quarter, boosted by the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada and increased production from the Orapa mine in Botswana in response to “sustained healthy trading conditions.”

In Canada, output rose by 69 percent to 1.1 million carats as De Beers ramped up production at Gahcho Kué.  

The company said production in Botswana increased 12 per cent to 5.8 million carats while holdings in Namibia were up 12 percent to 500,000 carats due to access to consistently higher grades.

South African production for the company, meanwhile, was in line with the prior-year period at 1.1 million carats.

Total rough diamond sales volumes in the first quarter were 8.8 million carats from two sights, or sales, compared with 14.1 million carats from three sights last year.

De Beer said in addition to the difference in the number of sights during the period, the first sight in Q1 2017 also saw “an unusually strong demand for lower value goods” following the effects of the Indian demonetization program, which led to a higher-than-normal sales volume then.

The miner’s full-year production guidance remains at 34 to 36 million carats.

Alrosa, meanwhile, said diamond production in its first quarter totaled 7.4 million carats, a 17 percent decrease compared with the year-earlier period.

The company attributed its decline to reduced production at the Mirny division caused by the shutdown of the Mir underground mine following the August 2017 accident, processing of lower-grade ore from the Jubilee pipe and the end of ore processing from Udachny’s open pit after open-pit mining at the site was completed.

It added, however, that it has continued to grow production at key expansion projects during the first quarter, with Q1 output at the Udachny underground mine and Severalmaz increasing year-over-year.

The production goal the company has targeted for the full year is 36.6 million carats.

Alrosa also released preliminary sales numbers for the first quarter.

During the three-month period, Alrosa said it sold 13.3 million carats of diamonds, including 10.1 million carats of gem-quality diamonds at an average price of $154 per carat, and 3.2 million carats of industrial diamonds at an average price of $8 per carat.

Rough and polished diamond sales totaled $1.582 billion and $23.7 million, respectively.

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