Less than sparkling: Sales dip at Anglo American's diamond unit De Beers

Francesca Washtell
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Anglo American is looking to focus on diamonds, platinum and copper (Source: Getty)

Anglo American's diamond unit, De Beers, shone a little less bright this autumn as sales of its rough cut gems dipped ahead of the key Christmas holiday season.

Sales reached $470m (£375m) in the ninth "sales cycle" of the year at the predominantly Africa-focused gem group. This was down from $494m in the eighth cycle.

De Beers holds 10 sales cycles each year. Taking place roughly every five weeks, the cycles consist of viewings that last several days at which customers can scoop up boxes of rough diamonds.

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However, De Beers' chief executive, Bruce Cleaver, insisted the dip was in line with expectations for the time of year.

Encouragingly, the ninth sales cycle of 2016 showed continued good demand for De Beers rough diamonds, with sales in line with expected seasonal demand patterns.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are expected to top up turnover to a natural, annual peak in the tenth cycle.

Anglo now maintains discipline at its diamonds business by "mining to demand" and, in the third quarter, production rose four per cent to 6.3m carats, the FTSE 100 miner said last month.

It was reported that Anglo is looking to focus on diamonds, platinum and copper, while packaging up non-core assets in thermal coal and iron ore.

Read more: Anglo American mulls sale of De Beers' London headquarters

In the year-to-date, diamond production dipped nine per cent, though full-year guidance remains unchanged at 26m to 28m carats.

Last year, Moody's warned diamond prices were set to fall as low consumer demand was putting added pressure on miners, while crackdowns on corruption and China and a stronger dollar had also impacted margins.

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