Rio Tinto considers quitting diamond business


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Rio Tinto which owns the Murowa Diamond Mine near Zvishavane is considering quitting the diamond business but says this process might take some time.

“We’re committed to keeping stakeholders informed about any key developments, and in the meantime are reassuring employees and the governments in the states and countries where we operate that it is very much business as usual,” the company’s chief executive, Diamonds and Minerals, Harry Kenyon-Slaney said.

Rio Tinto operates three diamond mines, Argyle in Australia in which it has a100 per cent interest, Diavik in Canada where it has a 60 per cent interest, and Murowa in Zimbabwe in which it owns 78 per cent.

“We regularly review our businesses to ensure they remain aligned with Rio Tinto’s strategy of operating large, long-life, expandable assets,” Kenyon Slaney said.

“The diamonds market outlook is very positive, with demand growing strongly and lack of new discoveries limiting supply. We have a valuable, high quality diamonds business, but given its scale we are reviewing whether we can create more value through a different ownership structure.”

According to Murowa’s website the mine can produce 250 000 carats a year and has the potential to double that.

But this is now a very small production compared to mines in Marange which have catapulted Zimbabwe to become one of the major players in the diamond industry.

During Zimbabwe’s battle to be readmitted to the Kimberley Process, the African Diamond Producers Association accused Canada and Australia of trying to protect their interests by barring Zimbabwe diamonds.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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