Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rio Tinto Says Diamond Output at Murowa Mine in Zimbabwe Up 43%

Diamond miner Rio Tinto says its diamond production at the Murowa diamond mine in Zimbabwe, in which the company holds a 78% stake, increased 43% in 2010 compared to 2009.

The diamond company announced that the Murowa mine yielded 139,000 carats of rough diamonds for all of 2010, compared to 97,000 carats in 2009. However, production dropped 29% in the last quarter of 2010 from the corresponding period in 2009.

No specific reason was given for the Q4 slump, although Rio Tinto said that continued power outages affected operations at Murowa.

The open-pit Murowa mine, completed in 2004, is one of three operating diamond mines in Zimbabwe, the other two being the Chiadzwa mine in Manicaland and the River Ranch Mine in southern Zimbabwe, which is 75% owned by De Beers and has been in production since the 1990s.

Since Murowa was constructed, diamond deposits have been discovered in the country's Marange fields and have been mined amid ongoing reports of human rights abuses by the government security forces charged with securing the region. In October 2010, the Zimbabwean government reported the discovery of three additional diamond deposits in Binga, Masvingo, and in the Tsholotsho region of western Zimbabwe.

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