Anglo American cancels rough-diamond sales event due to coronavirus lockdowns

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Anglo American is seen on a jacket of an employee at the Los Bronces copper mine, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

(Reuters) - Anglo American said on Monday its diamond unit De Beers Group will not hold its third sales event because of lockdowns in Botswana, South Africa and India, to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The third sales cycle was scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 3.

The pandemic has placed new worries on the diamond industry, which faced slowing demand last year due to trade tensions and protests in Hong Kong.

The world’s largest producer of rough diamonds by carats, Alrosa, this month had said it was considering options for online trade as global travel restrictions complicate traditional physical inspection of gemstones.

As the third rough diamond sales cycle called Sights is cancelled - an event where customers can inspect and buy diamonds from De Beers, the group will seek innovative ways to meet the supply in the coming weeks, Anglo said.

De Beers Group is enabling Sightholders to defer 100% of their Sight 3 allocations to later in the year, Anglo added.

Sights are held 10 times a year in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

(This story has been refiled for extraneous word in fifth paragraph).

Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Bernard Orr