The massive Russian Federation and tiny country of Botswana share top honors on 2022's list of the most prolific rough diamond producers in the world.
The Russian Federation extracted 41.9 million carats of diamonds in 2022, placing it on top of the leaderboard, far ahead of #2 Botswana (24.7 million carats) and #3 Canada (16.2 million carats).
The rankings rejigger when we analyze the diamond output in terms of value, with Botswana rising to the top of the list ($4.9 billion), followed by the Russian Federation ($3.5 billion) and Angola ($1.9 billion).
Of the world's 195 countries, only 22 engage in diamond mining. And of that group, the top 10 diamond mining countries accounted for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022. World production was 120.2 million carats at a value of $16.2 billion.
Here's the current rankings of the Top-10 diamond producing countries by carat weight and by value. The stats are based on statistics compiled by Kimberly Process (a diamond-industry certification organization) as well as Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.
Russian Federation: Carat Ranking #1 / Value Ranking #2
According to Dr. Damarupurshad's analysis, Russia produced more than a third (35%) of the world's rough diamonds in 2022 (by weight) and a little over one-fifth of its value.
Botswana: Carat Ranking #2 / Value Ranking #1
Botswana is famous for its gem-quality rough diamonds, six of which rank in the Top 10 of the largest rough diamonds ever discovered. That quality factor is why the country ranked #1 in value, topping its Russian rival by 40% even though its carat output was only 59% of Russia's total.
Canada: Carat Ranking #3 / Value Ranking #4
Dr. Damarupurshad noted that although Canada is also known for producing gem-quality diamonds, its production is on a declining trend as older, richer pipes at the Ekati and Diavik mines deplete. Nevertheless, Canada still ranked #3 in production (16.2 million carats) and #4 in value ($1.8 billion) in 2022.
The next seven countries on the list are all on the continent of Africa. In fact, eight of the top 10 diamond-producing countries are African, accounting for 51% of the world's diamond output by weight, and 66% by value.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Carat Ranking #4 / Value Ranking #11
The disparity in this countries rankings reflects the prevalence of lower-grade rough. The DRC generated 9.9 million carats with a value of just $65 million. The vast majority of diamonds produced in the DRC are used for industrial purposes.
South Africa: Carat Ranking #5 / Value Ranking #5
The home of the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond ever unearthed, South Africa produces consistently high-quality diamonds and has been doing it for more than a century. The Cullinan was found in the Premier Mine in 1905. In 2022, South Africa generated 9.6 million carats valued at $1.5 billion.
Angola: Carat Ranking #6 / Value Ranking #3
Angola produced 8.7 million carats, but banked $1.9 billion — a number topped only by Botswana and Russia. The high value is a testament to a finer grade of rough material unearthed in 2022. Dr. Damarupurshad reported a marginal increase in carats in 2022, but a 20% increase in value compared with 2021.
At this point in the list, production and value take a big step down.
Zimbabwe: Carat Ranking #7 / Value Ranking #7
Zimbabwe's output of 4.4 million carats was about half of the tally of #6 Angola, and the diamond value of $424 million was barely a fourth of Angola's total. Zimbabwe's overall output improved compared to 2021, but the value retreated by nearly 40%.
Namibia: Carat Ranking #8 / Value Ranking #6
This country on the southwest coast of Africa produces gem-quality diamonds sourced largely from off-shore activities. In 2022, Namibia produced 2 million carats with a value of $1.2 billion. Dr. Damarupurshad called Namibian production in 2022 "the diamond mining highlight of the year." The value of diamond output grew by 50% and the price-per-carat grew to $601 — the highest of the Top-20 diamond mining countries in the world.
Lesotho: Carat Ranking #9 / Value Ranking #8
In 2022, this tiny, landlocked country which is completely surrounded by South Africa, scored a #9 spot with a rough diamond output of 727,000 carats and a #8 spot on the value chart with $314 million in revenue. In 2021, Lesotho diamonds generated the highest price per carat ($756), but the country failed to maintain that status in 2022 ($432 per carat).
Sierra Leone: Carat Ranking #10 / Value Ranking #9
Sierra Leone barely managed to remain in the Top 10 in 2022 based on production (688,000 carats) and value ($143 million). Both numbers were slightly down from the country's performance in 2021.
Credit: Image of 342-carat rough diamond mined in Botswana, courtesy of Lucara Diamond.