High gem output eclipses low prices for De Beers
Operations seem to be doing okay, but realised prices are terrible
An analyst’s rather pointed criticism of the inferior diamonds coming from the new Gahcho Kué mine De Beers shares with Canada’s Mountain Province seems to be fair, with the average price per carat falling to $72 in July, from $95 in June.
Menno Sanderse from Morgan Stanley said at the interim results presentation by Anglo American, which owns 85% of De Beers: "Revenue per carat seems like you’re selling pebbles rather than diamonds. Is that going to improve? Operations seem to be doing okay, but realised prices are terrible."
In the sixth sale from the mine, Mountain Province said it had sold 290,000 carats, up from the 222,000 it sold in June, but the average price dropped to just $72 a carat, the same as for the first three sales of 2017.
Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani and De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said last week that while the average price for Gahcho Kué diamonds was indeed low, the volume of diamonds coming from a better-than-expected grade more than made up for this.
"At Gahcho Kué, we have found so far that while the quality has been lower than we anticipated, the actual carats per tonne has been more than we thought. Therefore the revenues per tonne have been on or better than anticipated, and the production ramp-up has been going very well," said Cutifani.
Mountain Province recently said the low prices for the first three sales of 2017 were due to "price discovery" by buyers investigating a new source, and a relatively high percentage of low-value brown gems as well as lower quality special diamonds, the larger stones.
"The diamonds sold in this sixth sale primarily originate from the April production month, and the attributed value per tonne for the month as realised from the sale was C$225 ($180). This is the highest monthly value per tonne we have achieved to date, and reflects the particularly strong recovered grade for the April production," said David Whittle, Mountain Province’s CEO.