2016 in numbers. . .but not the ones you think


It should come as no surprise that as Chief Financial Officer for De Beers Group, I’m going to have a passion for numbers and a vested interest in the figures that, ultimately, contribute to our bottom line. 

It was these numbers that were in the spotlight last Tuesday when Anglo American published its financial results for 2016. 

However, rather than recap the key figures from our financial performance, I thought it would be interesting to shed light on some of those figures that you wouldn’t necessarily consider when looking back on last year, but that are equally important when reviewing the year that was for De Beers. 


This is the smallest carat size of colourless and near-colourless diamonds that our International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research’s (IIDGR) new PhosView instrument can analyse. 

Consumers’ confidence in the provenance of their diamond is of paramount importance to our business and PhosView is one of many innovative examples of how the IIDGR is helping to safeguard that confidence. 

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Opening a new mine is no small feat, but that’s just what we did last year at Gahcho Kué in Canada’s Northwest Territories. 

For those outside the industry, opening a new mine might not seem like something to write home about. However, when you consider that Gahcho Kué has been more than 20 years in the making, is the world’s largest new diamond mine and will make a significant contribution to Canada’s economy (more on that later), it really is a fascinating story worth telling. 

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The number of Historically Disadvantaged South African-owned diamond cutting and polishing companies selected for a new beneficiation project between De Beers, the South African government and the country’s cutting and polishing industry. 

The industry, in South Africa in particular, faces a number of challenges that inhibit it from competing on a larger scale. However, this project aims to encourage growth and sits alongside other beneficiation initiatives we have a hand in, such as the Shining Light Awards. 

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The number of years established for the new sales agreement between De Beers and the Government of the Republic of Namibia, which will see more rough diamonds being made available for sale locally. 

The agreement – the longest ever signed between De Beers and Namibia – marks a new chapter in our partnership with the country, which first began more than 20 years ago, and reinforces our commitment to its future as a leading diamond-producing nation. 

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That’s how many disadvantaged Namibian children were supported with their academic studies last year through a new N$10 million partnership between De Beers and the University of Namibia. 

With so much of Namibia’s development built on an economic foundation of diamonds, it’s only right that we do what we can to support those who truly need it. With this five-year agreement, which complements the Government’s own efforts in supporting children from marginalised communities, we aim to do just that. 

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The amount invested in an expansion of the IIDGR’s diamond grading and testing centre in Surat, India. 

This world-leading facility, which was first opened in 2015 following a US$10 million investment, can process up to US$500 million worth of diamonds each year, bolsters India’s position as a leading diamond processing hub and complements the country’s position as a leading consumer of diamond jewellery. 

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That’s how many potential Millennial diamond consumers there are across our four main consumer markets, as highlighted in our recent Diamond Insight Report. 

It’s very clear to us that tomorrow’s consumers are not the same as yesterday’s. But, while they may share some of the same views, we intend to make sure De Beers is well positioned to capitalise on the opportunity these potential new diamond jewellery owners provide. 

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The contribution that our new Gahcho Kué mine is expected to make over its lifetime to Canada’s economy, which also includes a C$5.3 billion boost for the Northwest Territories. 

Our business is one built on partnerships. We can’t do what we do without working with our host countries’ governments, communities and local authorities. Having a social licence to operate, and as demonstrated by the socio-economic impact Gahcho Kué will provide, we can deliver value for our partners, as well as our shareholders. 

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So, there you have it. From 0.003 to 6,700,000,000 in around three minutes. 

And these are just a few of the figures that contributed to a year where we delivered strong financial returns and a robust operating performance. 

However, while revenue and earnings can be important measures of success, it’s numbers such as those I’ve gone through here that help give a truer sense of our overall performance in 2016.

Nimesh Patel
CFO, De Beers Group