Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Gaborone — Sales at Botswana’s state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) fell 16% in the first half of 2018 to $260m, its MD has said, citing a high comparison base against last year’s record growth.

Marcus ter Haar said the company sold 1.778-million carats in the first half of 2018 compared with 1.808-million in the same period last year.

"A favourable rough diamond market over this period has meant ODC has generated healthy sales for the first half of 2018, despite not being able to offer larger volumes to our customers compared to the same period in 2017," he said.

Ter Haar said customers from the US and Far East largely drove demand in the six months to the end of June. Looking ahead, he said sales for the remainder of 2018 were unlikely to be as strong as in the first half due to an anticipated cyclical downturn in the market. "Current indications suggest a seasonal slowdown in the diamond market has now begun that will have something of a dampening effect on the promising first half."

ODC, which holds 10 sales auctions each year, sells 15% of Debswana’s production as Botswana develops its own price book through the independent window outside of De Beers’ channels to gauge the market. Debswana, a joint venture between Anglo American’s De Beers and Botswana, recorded a 9% jump in production in the first half of 2018 to 12.08-million carats.

Reuters