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De Beers rough diamond sales fall by 40 per cent amid virus fears

De Beers' rough diamond sales are down by 40 per cent from the same period one year ago because of fears related to coronavirus, according to a report in Kitco News.

Sales were at $355 million, the precious metals industry news site said on March 4.

The release quoted De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver saying the Chinese market is depressed because of the virus.

De Beers announced this week a 39 per cent drop in rough diamond sales amid a depressed Chinese market because of coronavirus fears.
photo courtesy of Peregrine Diamonds

“Following an improvement in demand for rough diamonds during the first sales cycle of 2020, we recognized the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market and put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds.”

In an email to News/North, De Beers spokesperson Terry Kruger said the company is monitoring the situation, but it is unclear how it would affect De Beers' operations in the NWT, where the company holds a 51 per cent stake in the Gahcho Kue diamond mine.

“The situation with the virus continues to evolve so we are adopting prudent measures with our rough diamond sales, such as offering customers who supply the Chinese markets additional flexibility to defer their allocations to later in the year,” Kruger said.

De Beers announced on Dec. 31 of last year that it planned to expand exploration at the mine, located about 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

In its submission to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, the company said it would explore 11 targets of interest by late February in a two-phase project that would cost about $2.88 million.

The latest news of a downturn comes amid a difficult period for the company, after it announced a 39 per cent drop in sales last October because of falling demand for rough diamonds.