Rio Tinto’s diamond production rose 41 percent year on year to 3.518 million carats in the first quarter of 2012 driven by improved output at its Argyle and Diavik mines.
Output at the company’s fully owned Argyle mine in Australia grew 52 percent to 2.488 million carats during the quarter. Rio Tinto explained that production during the comparable period in 2011 was relatively low due to heavy rains, while plant shutdowns limited operations in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The company recently started construction of the Argyle underground mine which is expected to be complete by the end of 2013. Argyle is currently mining slightly higher grade ore in the final open cut deposit.
Rio Tinto’s 60 percent share of production at the Diavik mine in Canada grew 19 percent to 963,000 carats due to increased underground operations, improved grades and higher throughput. Harry Winston Diamond Corporation owns the remaining 40 percent stake in Diavik.
Rio Tinto owns 78 percent of the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe where production increased 47 percent to 66,000 carats during the three month period.