- Fall attributed to Orapa operational hiccups
- Diamond production in Botswana 28% down
- Positive demand for rough diamonds in 2021
The Anglo American says the rough diamond production at De Beers declined massively by 14% to 6.7 million carats during the fourth quarter.
Anglo American disclosed in its production report for fourth quarter ended 31 December 2020. The company says the decline was driven by continued planned reductions in response to the lower demand for rough diamonds caused by Covid-19 and operational challenges at the Orapa mine.
According to the report, the challenges at Orapa have led to lower than the expected production.
“In Botswana, production decreased by 28% to 4.3 million carats, driven by the planned treatment of lower grade material at Jwaneng, where production decreased by 56%. This was partly offset by a 9% increase at Orapa due to a planned improvement in grade, despite a slower than anticipated plant restart in December following scheduled maintenance as well as power supply interruptions affecting plant availability,” said giant mining company review on Botswana.
Anglo America owns 85% of De Beers Group, the world’s leading diamond company, with the remaining 15% owned by the Government of Botswana, mining diamonds through Debswana mines.
The local mining sector had been hit hard by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in Botswana in March last year with this in turn leading to a massive loss of revenue by the government as well. The sector remains largest contributor the country’s economy.
Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said strong performance recovery in the second half continued through the fourth quarter, following the Covid-19 disruptions earlier in the year.
“As expected, second half production returned to 95 %( 1) of 2019 rates, benefiting from strong performances in copper at Los Bronces in Chile and in iron ore at Minas-Rio in Brazil. The recovery was all the more credible given planned maintenance at both the Collahuasi copper and Kumba iron ore operations and the suspension of operations at the Grosvenor metallurgical coal mine,” he added.
Cutifani noted that as the company begins 2021, they are continuing to see a positive demand for rough diamonds as strongly supported demand for diamond jewellery in the holiday selling season.
While it is still too early to signal a strong and sustained recovery, Cutifani maintained that the resilience in demand in spite of on-going negative Covid-19 impacts is very encouraging as well.
The company also said Namibia production decreased by 26% to 0.3 million carats as the majority of the marine fleet remobilised during Q4, following the Q3 stoppage thus adding to output woes.
“Namibia production decreased by 26% to 0.3 million carats as the majority of the marine fleet remobilised during Q4, following the Q3 stoppage. South African production increased to 1.3 million carats due to the expected improvement in ore grade from the last cut of the open pit at Venetia as the mine continues to transition to underground operations,” said Anglo American. Production in Canada decreased by 23% to 0.8 million carats as maintenance resulted in lower plant throughput.