March 11, 2020 / 9:26 AM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-Coronavirus concerns hit sales of Russia's Alrosa in February

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MOSCOW, March 11 (Reuters) - Russian diamond miner Alrosa said on Wednesday that its sales in February were hit by risks related to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which is likely to continue hurting demand for gemstones in the coming months.

State-controlled Alrosa is the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms. Together with Anglo American’s De Beers unit, it produces about half of the world’s rough diamonds.

“In February, the uncertainty with the spread of ...the virus started to weigh negatively on demand and customers’ activity, a factor that will impact demand in the coming months,” Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa deputy chief executive, said in the statement.

“However, we continue to pursue a ‘price-over-volume’ strategy to keep prices stable rather than increasing sales volumes,” he added.

Alrosa’s sales of rough and polished diamonds fell 14% to $346.4 million in February from January, it said in a statement. The sales were broadly unchanged from a year ago.

Alrosa said this week that it originally had planned to sell 37 million carats in 2020, but the coronavirus outbreak made this less predictable. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)

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