24 August 2012

Rio Tinto to develop Bunder diamond project in Madhya Pradesh, India

24 August 2012 - Rio Tinto today unveiled the inaugural Bunder diamond jewellery collection comprising diamonds from the sampling to date at its developing Bunder project in Madhya Pradesh. Guest of Honour at the event was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Dr Nik Senapati, Managing Director of Rio Tinto India paid tribute to the ongoing support of the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

"The Government of Madhya Pradesh has supported us from the very beginning in our quest to develop a new benchmark for mine development in India. I am delighted that seven years after our initial discovery, we can showcase these exquisite pieces of jewellery that provide a window into the enormous potential of the gems contained in the Bunder deposit. 

The Bunder project, likely to come into commercial production in 2016, presents enormous opportunities not only for the Madhya Pradesh region, but for the broader Indian diamond industry as well, with Rio Tinto presenting a unique opportunity for India to mine, manufacture and market its own diamonds." 

The Bunder diamond project was discovered in 2004 by Rio Tinto and in 2010 a State Support Agreement was signed with Government of Madhya Pradesh as an endorsement of the mutual commitment to the development of the project. An Inferred Resource (the first quantifiable estimate of an ore-body) has been defined as 37 million tonnes, containing 27.4 million carats. The Government of Madhya Pradesh gave in principle approval to the issue of a mining lease for the Bunder project via a "Letter of Intent" in January 2012. Rio Tinto is now working on the mine plan, environmental and forestry approvals required to execute a Mining Lease. At least rupees 2200 crore (US$500M) will be required to fully develop the Bunder diamond project. Once developed the Bunder diamond mine is expected to place Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world. 

Rio Tinto operates a fully integrated diamonds business from exploration through to sales and marketing. It is one of the world's major diamond producers through its 100 per cent control of the Argyle mine in Australia, 60 per cent of the Diavik mine in Canada, 78 per cent interest in the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe and 100 per cent interest in the Bunder project in India. 

Rio Tinto's share of the production from its three operating diamond mines is sold through its sales and marketing headquarters in Antwerp, with representative offices in Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York. It also operates a niche cutting and polishing factory in Perth for the rare pink diamonds from its Argyle mine. Rio Tinto is a leading supporter of the Kimberley Process, as well as a founding member of Responsible Jewellery Council. 

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. 

Source: Rio Tinto