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India factory closures weigh on De Beers diamond revenues

De beers diamond sales expected on the back foot heading into the key retail holiday season. (Image: De Beers | Instagram)

Anglo American’s (LSE: AAL) diamonds unit De Beers has reported another decline in sales revenue for the ninth sales cycle this year, as cutting factory closures in India weighed on demand.

For November 8 through 23, rough diamond sales totalled $430 million, which was lower than the $492 million in sales it reported for the previous cycle.

Revenues were also lower year-on-year, with ninth cycle sales in 2020 totalling $462 million. In the year-to-date, sales totalled $4.5 billion, with one sales cycle remaining.

De Beers generates revenue by showcasing stones during so-called ‘Sight’ events to select global buyers.

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said in a statement demand leading up to the ninth cycle was “in line with expectations”, given the usual pattern of cutting factory closures in India during the November 4 Diwali festival.

“Sentiment continues to be positive on the back of strong demand for diamond jewellery from US consumers, and this was reflected in the demand we saw for rough diamonds during Cycle 9,” said Cleaver.

“As we head into Cycle 10, we anticipate rough diamond demand will likewise be affected by the Christmas holiday closure of cutting factories in southern Africa, but we expect to see positive industry conditions prevailing into the new year in light of the healthy outlook for the key retail selling season.”

Anglo American owns an 85% stake in De Beers, with the balance held by the Botswana government. De Beers and its partners produce around one-third of the world’s rough diamonds by value.

Goldman Sachs analysts recently said they expect diamonds to account for up to $1.2 billion of Anglo American’s full-year EBITDA of $22.4 billion this year. The value of De Beers diamond sales was expected to total $5.1 billion.

MINING.COM recently reported that De Beers has started selling the world’s first traceable diamonds under the GemFair program, aimed at removing conflict diamonds from the market by tracing the route of precious stones dug up by artisanal and small-scale miners.

In October, Namdeb, a joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers, announced the approval of a new long-term business plan that will allow it to extend its land-based mines’ life by 20 years to 2042. However, the plan translates to a royalty rate cut for De Beers of 5%, from 10%.

Anglo American shares were last trading marginally higher in London at 2,885.50 pence apiece.