The Namibian (Windhoek)

28 June 2012

Namibia: Diamonds Off to a Sparkling Start

More than 467 000 carats of diamonds were mined during the first four months of the year, the highest production over this period since 2008.

Capricorn Investment Holdings (CIH), releasing the figures yesterday, said the record figures are mainly due to a spike in production levels in April.

Just over 160 000 carats were mined in April, the highest monthly production since last September.

"We expect to see a trend decline in production levels as global demand for gemstones has suffered amidst the deepening debt crisis in the Eurozone," CIH said.

The three diamond sales that took place in February, March and April generated N$2,06 billion for Namibia, compared to N$1,35 billion made during the same sales last year. A total of 379 267 carats were sold this time around, compared to 348 965 carats last year.

"There was a 8,7 per cent increase in the number of diamonds sold in the first three sales in 2012 compared to that of 2011, yet the value of the diamonds sold increased by an impressive 53 per cent over the same period. This suggests that either the price fetched at the three sales was very favourable or the quality of the diamonds sold were of a higher value in the 2012 sales - alternatively, it could be a combination of both these factors," CIH said.

Carats sold in the fourth quarter of 2011 totalled 406 457 and the value of these sales were N$2,29 billion, CIH said. In comparison, total revenue received from the first three sales this year saw a 10,1 per cent reduction on fourth quarter sales revenue, while the number of carats sold was seven per cent less compared to the final three sales of 2011.

"This suggests that prices have become slightly less favourable in the 2012 sales months."

Government received N$185,5 million from royalties from diamond operations with the first three sales of 2012 - 49,7 per cent more than the same time last year. However, the amount is 11,1 per cent less than the royalties earned during the fourth quarter of 2011.

CIH said Government earned a total of N$584,7 million in diamond royalties in 2011, the highest from the diamond industry in six years.

"The current royalties received from sales bode well for Government for the rest of 2012, provided that production levels remain at similar levels and the price of diamonds continues to be on the upside," CIH said.

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