Home Business Coronavirus leaves diamond miners with stockpiles worth billions

Coronavirus leaves diamond miners with stockpiles worth billions

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Diamond miners have reportedly piled up billions of dollars worth of gems they have struggled to sell as the coronavirus crisis locked down the industry.

The five largest diamond producers likely have about $3.5 billion in “excess inventories” amid the pandemic, which shuttered jewelry stores and kept cutters and polishers at home, Bloomberg Quint reported this week.

That figure could balloon to $4.5 billion by the end of the year, when Russian giant Alrosa could have 30 million carats on hand — about the same amount as it produces in a year, the Sunday story says.

Alrosa and London-based De Beers — two of the industry’s leading players — have “barely sold any rough diamonds since February,” but they have kept their prices steady and turned down customers asking to buy on “special terms,” according to the report.

De Beers reportedly raked in some $35 million at a May sale after canceling its March event — a small fraction of the $416 million the same sale generated last year.

But smaller players have cut prices, with so-called junior miners giving discounts as large as 25 percent in their battle, according to Bloomberg.

Miners are facing “a double whammy of weak prices and a sharp decline in sales volumes on a scale reminiscent of the 2008-09 crisis,” Societe Generale analyst Sergey Donskoy told Bloomberg. “Can miners destock and keep protecting the market?”

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