On April 30, Rio Tinto officially opened the new Argyle underground diamond mine, in a move that will extend the mine’s life until 2020.
The mine, located in the east Kimberley region of Western Australia, had previously been an open pit producer. The average annual production over the life of the $2.2 billion underground mine is estimated at 20 million carats per year.
The Argyle mine has produced some 800 million carats of rough diamonds over the past 25 years, including some much-sought-after “Argyle pinks.”
The mine is currently for sale by owner Rio Tinto, which is considering leaving the diamond business. Rio Tinto’s chief executive, Allen Davies, was recently quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the mines may be sold off individually.
“The Argyle Diamond Mine is a world class resource which has been strongly supported by Rio Tinto since exploration began in the 1970s,” said Argyle Diamond Mine managing director Kim Truter in a statement. “A new chapter begins at Argyle and I am proud to acknowledge the many men and women who have contributed to the discovery and development of the mine.”
Argyle is one of the largest contributors to the East Kimberley economy, a statement said, with 70 percent of the workforce living locally.