Rio Tinto’s Diamond Production -7% in 4Q

Rio Tinto’s diamond production fell 7 percent year on year to 2.967 million carats in the fourth quarter of 2011. The decline was mainly due to slow output at the company’s flagship Argyle mine, which incurred various maintenance shutdowns in the processing plant during the period.

Production at Argyle, which is fully owned by Rio, dropped 14 percent to 1.918 million carats. Meanwhile, Rio’s 60 percent share of production at the Diavik mine in Canada rose 4 percent to 961,000 carats and the company’s 78 percent share of output at the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe nearly tripled to 88,000 carats.

For the full year 2011, Rio’s total diamond production fell 15 percent to 11.733 million carats. Argyle production dropped 24 percent to 7.441 million carats while Rio’s stake in Diavik production rose 3 percent to 4.006 million carats. The company’s share of Murowa’s output doubled to 285,000 carats.

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