De Beers: global diamond sales grew only 4% in 2012

Rapaport reports world number two diamond producer De Beers estimates global polished diamond sales rose a mere 4% in 2012.

Philippe Mellier, De Beers chief executive, told an audience of investors on Friday that reasons for the pedestrian pace include slumping demand ‎in India which was hurt by "high inflation and a volatile ‎rupee" while in China the ‎anticipated boost to consumer spending from the government stimulus program "‎didn’t materialize":

De Beers forecasted that polished diamond sales in China grew 11 percent in 2012, ‎compared with 25 percent growth recorded in 2011, while sales in India fell 1 percent ‎after growth of 9 percent last year. Sales in the U.S. increased 4 percent during the year, ‎the group estimated. ‎

The company has maintained its mining operations focused on maintenance and waste ‎stripping during the period of market weakness that began in the fourth quarter of 2011. ‎Production fell 20 percent year on year to 19.824 million carats during the first nine ‎‎months of 2012.  ‎Rough diamond sales to sightholders fell 23 percent to $3.98 billion ‎during the same period, according to Rapaport estimates.‎

Anglo American (LON:AAL) in August completed its acquisition of a 40% stake in the De Beers Group from the Oppenheimer family, which has held a major ownership stake in the diamond mining, distribution and marketing company for more than 80 years.

The $5.1 billion deal, announced in November last year, increased Anglo’s stake in the diamond mining giant from the 45% to 85%, marking the end of Oppenheimer era at De Beers. The government of Botswana owns the remaining 15% of the company.

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