Harare – Following a strong performance in December, Russian miner Alrosa’s rough and polished diamond sales fell to $281.5 million in January which is a 44 percent decrease on the same month in 2018.
Russian diamond giant Alrosa together with Chinese-owned Anjin are the two foreign companies recently chosen by the Zimbabwean Government to partner the state-diamond firm in exploring and mining diamonds.
In an announcement for diamond sales results for January 2019, deputy CE Yury Okoemov said rough diamond sales amounted to $278.2-million and polished diamond sales were $3.4-million.
“In January, market activity was lower than usual. After active restocking at the midstream in December 2018 (our December sales were up 20% qoq and up 46% yoy), our January sales came lower.
“At the same time combined sales in December 2018 and January 2019 reached three years average number of $601.9 million. Sales in the diamond market are always cyclical, and apparently, we are seeing the expected correction after the peak values in previous periods,” he said.
Alrosa competes with Anglo American’s De Beers, which is the biggest seller of rough diamonds by value. De Beers also reported a weaker start to 2019, with its rough diamond sales in the first sales cycle of the year having fallen by 25 percent year-on-year to $505-million.
Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond producer by output, started conducting geological exploration in Zimbabwe in 2013 but dropped the licences it held there in 2016 due to a reform of the country’s diamond industry.
The government is considering waiving a rule that has prevented foreign investors from holding controlling stakes in its diamond mines, as it targets production of 12 million carats by 2023, up from 3.5 million carats last year.
Last month, Alrosa CE Sergey Ivanov said the miner seeks to support Zimbabwe in the development of its diamond-mining industry in line with the industry’s best practices and that geologists and mining engineers from the miner will arrive in Zimbabwe in the next month to start operations.
Despite the country’s diamond riches, no major producers are operating. Rio Tinto Group sold its stake in a project in 2015 and gem giant De Beers quit the country more than a decade ago.
Zimbabwe’s diamond production has tumbled in recent years as easy pickings at the once vast Marange diamond fields have been exhausted. Output is down almost 75 percent in the past five years.
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