Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rio Tinto Diamond Production Drops 29% in Q1

Lower grades and bad weather have led to a sharp drop in Rio Tinto’s diamond production in the first quarter ending March 31. The company’s two diamond mines produced 2.498 million carats, falling 29% year-over-year and 22% from the preceding quarter.

In a production report published this morning (Wednesday) Rio Tinto states that Argyle’s production dropped by 35% year-over-year to 1.641 million carats. Lower carat production at Argyle reflected lower grades as well as 14% fewer tonnes processed due to heavy rains in March. The poor weather also led to a temporary stop of construction at the Argyle underground project.

Despite a 25% increase in ore processing, diamond production at Diavik was 13% lower than the first quarter of 2010, with Rio Tinto’s 60% share of production totaling 812,000 carats. The decline is due to the lower grade in the A418 open pit and underground as compared with the A154 open pit.

The site that produced more diamonds was Murowa in Zimbabwe, increasing 55.2% year-over-year. The company’s 78% share of production increased from 29,000 carats in the first quarter of 2010 to 45,000 carats in the first quarter of 2011.

Rio Tinto is continuing its evaluation project in Bunder, India and Greenfield programs in Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo and India.


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