Williamson Diamond Mine in Tanzania has announced a 36 per cent increase in sales revenues and a 17 per cent increase in production in 2019.
Majority shareholders Petra Diamonds said in its latest trading update that the improved figures were recorded even as the company is still in talks with the Tanzanian authorities and local advisers on overdue VAT refunds and a 71,000-carat diamonds consignment that has been blocked from being exported by the Tanzanian government since 2017.
Petra, a London-Stock-Exchange listed company, said Williamson produced 386,016 carats of diamonds in the 2019 financial year, up from 328,681 carats in 2018.
The company sold 402,329 carats from the mine in 2019, up from 253,524 carats in 2018 recording, and earned revenues of $93 million, up from $68.5 million in 2018 — a 36 per cent increase.
Petra said this was despite the average price per carat falling by 14 per cent to $231, down from $270 in 2018.
Based on 2019 production and sales figures, Petra accounted for three per cent of all world diamond supplies by volume and three per cent by value. The total global production by value was $14.5 billion.
Dominant player in the market Alrosa accounted for 25 per cent, De Beers 24 per cent and Rio Tinto 12 per cent.
According to chief executive Richard Duffy, rough diamond pricing improved modestly moving into the third quarter of 2019, and run-of-mine production (from the primary orebody of the mine) increased three per cent to 214,888 carats by year-end, higher than the previous forecast of 208,064 carats.
The diamond mine, an open-pit operation in Mwadui, Shinyanga, in the north of Tanzania, has been in production since 1940. It is known for its large, high-value diamonds such as the 54-carat Williamson Pink presented to then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip for their wedding in 1947, and a 388-carat rock found in 1990.
Petra Diamonds took over majority ownership of the mine in February 2009, and currently has 75 per cent control with the government of Tanzania holding the remaining 25 per cent shares.
Tanzania is counted as the 10th largest diamond producer in Africa after Botswana, Angola, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Ghana.