The group said this reflects a “strong” operational performance, and higher planned levels of production to meet continued demand for rough diamonds. This compares to Q1 2021 which was impacted by particularly high rainfall in Botswana and at Venetia.
In Botswana, production increased by 25% to 6.2 million carats from increased processing at both Orapa and Jwaneng, as well as planned higher grades across the operations.
Additionally, production in Namibia grew by 33% to half a million carats. This was reportedly driven by higher recovery from the crawler vessels, due to lower planned maintenance of the Mafuta and the early delivery of the new diamond recovery vessel, the Benguela Gem.
Meanwhile, production in South Africa increased by 46% to 1.7 million carats due to the treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the open pit. However, production in Canada decreased by 15% to 0.6 million carats primarily as a result of treating lower grade ore.
Robust demand for rough diamonds continued into the first quarter following strong growth in consumer demand over the holiday season, with rough diamond sales totalling 7.9 million carats, compared with 13.5 million carats in Q1 2021, and 7.7 million carats in Q4 2021.
Looking ahead, the group’s production guidance for 2022 remains unchanged at 30–33 million carats (100% basis), subject to trading conditions and the extent of further Covid-19 related disruptions.
De Beers said: “As we head into the seasonally slower second quarter of the year, diamond businesses are adopting a more cautious and watchful approach in light of the war in Ukraine and associated sanctions, as well as the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns in China.”