Record diamond output
In July this year, the Kimberley Process once again published statistics on diamond mining and trade by the countries of the world in 2017. Last year, the same 23 countries were engaged in industrial diamond mining as in 2016 (Table 1).
The table is based on the data of the Annual Global Summary 2017 Production, Imports, Exports and KPC Counts.
An analysis of the Kimberley Process data shows that 2017 was a record year in all respects. Diamond output in carats went up by 12.52% compared with 2016. The world’s mined diamonds increased their value by 27.98%, while their average price increased by 13.74% reaching $105.20 per carat. This growth was due to a favorable conjuncture in the rough diamond market, as well as due to the fact that many countries significantly reduced their diamond stocks in 2016.
Diamond value by country
The most expensive diamonds are mined in Cameroon, Namibia, Sierra Leone, China, South Africa and Lesotho – from $300 to more than $500 per carat – due to the extraction of alluvial diamonds and primitive mining technology (excluding Namibia), when only large diamonds are mined.
Among the countries that extract diamonds from the primary deposits, South Africa’s diamonds are significantly higher in value compared with the world’s average – $ 319.04 per carat and the same is true for Namibia, Botswana (where De Beers is operating) and Angola. The value of diamonds produced by Russia is slightly lower, which is due to the different technology used in diamond ore concentration.
Russian concentration plants use autogenous grinding mills for ore-preparation allowing to extract diamonds ranging from 50 to 0.5 mm in size, while other countries use multi-stage grinding permitting to extract diamonds larger than 1 mm. It should be added, that the preservation of diamonds extracted by foreign technologies is slightly higher and this is especially true for large stones (larger than 20 mm). Nevertheless, in 2017, despite the tragic accident at the Mir mine in August, Russia strengthened its leadership in global diamond mining, and now its diamond production share is 28.25% by volume and 25.91% by value.
African countries with a low value of mined diamonds ($50 or less per carat) are suffering from flourishing crime and corruption and their diamonds are bought at a low cost by various intermediaries, who then sell them at a much higher price through other countries on their diamond exchanges. One exception is Australia, which has diamond deposits of an impact type where small diamonds predominate.
The BRANCS countries
In 2017, the pool of BRANCS countries (the term coined by the author of this article embracing Botswana, Russia, Angola, Namibia, Canada and South Africa), which produce diamonds worth more than $ 1 billion and are engaged in beneficiation (developing diamond manufacturing along with diamond mining), played a leading role in the world’s diamond production, mining more than 72% of diamonds by volume and over 92% by value, which indicates a high level of technology for extraction and organization of diamond trade (Table 2).
The table is based on the data of the Annual Global Summary: 2015, 2016, 2017 Production, Imports, Exports and KPC Counts.
In addition to the BRANCS countries, the following countries can be added to the list of major diamond mining nations in terms of production and value of diamonds mined: DRC, Australia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Lesotho. Including these, the 11 countries mining diamonds produce more than 99% of the global diamond output by volume and 98% by value.
As the world’s rough diamond market is now in a stable state and the demand for diamonds is high enough, there will hardly be a drastic change in the situation for diamond-mining countries and global diamond trade centers in 2018, while Russia will still retain its leading diamond mining position in the world.
（20/08/2018, Source: Rough & Polished）