Sierra Leone diamond exports dipped in volume and value in 2017. The Sierra Leone National Minerals Agency (NMA) reported a 22.51% fall in diamond exports for 2017 versus 2016, with total diamond exports for the latest year at 288,978.73 carats worth more than US$123 million.
The average price per carat received during 2017 was US$426.11.
A total of 179 Kimberley process certificates were issued to facilitate the exports.
The country's total 2017 diamond production haul included 166,594.57 carats of gem diamonds - 58% of the total - and 122,384.16 carats of industrial diamonds.
Artisanal production with a volume of 183,216.54 carats, valued at US$79.08 million, accounted for 63.40% of the total exports. Kimberlite production of 105,762.19 carats, worth US$44.05 million, contributed 36.6% of the export total.
The NMA said mêlée and industrial category diamonds accounted for 88% of total exports.
"Indications are that the run of mines (ROM) trend did shift a bit in the melees and industry categories, relative to the year 2016. There was a 17.37% carats drop in the melees category and a corresponding 18.12% increase in the industry category," the agency said.
"Although there was a drop in volume of 27.23% in the special stones category, its value was the highest across all categories.
"This can be attributed to the value attained by the two special stones - the 709.41ct Peace diamond owned by the government, and the 476.97ct Prosperity diamond owned by Meya Mining.
"With the fluctuations in the world market price for diamonds and the huge showing on the two special stones, Sierra Leone's average price per carat for diamonds increased to a new high of US$426.11, an increase of 47.24% [from the $289.39/ct average the previous year].
"The general price per carat index steadily remained at above $300 per carat but jumped to over and above $500 in the last two quarters of the year under review due to the rise in diamond prices in the last six months of 2017."
The NMA said with recent investment by Koidu Ltd in expansion of its operations, "it is hoped that the coming years will see more than double the export figures of the previous years".
Sierra Leone gold exports for 2017 totalled 142.06kg, down 24.31% on the 2016 level. Gold exports last year were worth US$5.2 million.
"In all, 16 exporters participated in 2017," the NMA said.
"Only 67 certificates were issued to expedite the exports." An averaged of US$1,140/oz was received for the 4,567.81oz of gold exported in 2017.