Diamond Miner Sells Stones Online

Australian mining company BHP wants to be the "Dell Computer" of the diamond industry. In a surprise announcement that twists the traditional diamond pipeline into knots, the majority owner of the Ekati mine in Canada's Northwest Territories will sell stones directly to Australian consumers via a new Web site (www.aurias.com.) "We wanted to take advantage of the strong recognition of the BHP brand in Australia," says spokesman Graham Nicholls. Eventually, the company may also market the site overseas, but Nicholls says the company wants to see how things go in Australia first. The initial plan is to sell 1,300 diamonds-only 1% of the mine's production. All stones will be laser-inscribed, and the mine is considering branding each with a BHP logo. "Branding is becoming an increased feature in the industry," Nicholls says. "We see this as an opportunity for BHP to have a presence in e

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