Gems from Down Under: The Story of Australian Diamonds
Australia is home to one of the most prolific diamond mines in the world – the Argyle mine in the East Kimberley region, discovered in 1979. Diamonds in Australia were recorded as early as 1851, according to the government website Australian Mines Atlas, and most of the country’s diamond resources are in the very large, low gem quality content of Argyle. Today, Argyle accounts for about 90% of Australia’s diamond production.
Argyle is owned by mining giant Rio Tinto. Argyle is the world’s most prolific diamond mine by volume and the world’s main source of pink and red diamonds, yielding some 90% of all red and pink stones recovered annually. The Argyle mine also produces champagne, cognac, and blue diamonds. Each year, the company holds an exclusive sale of the best pink diamonds recovered from the mine. The event is known as the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, and the diamonds for sale are exhibited in major diamond industry centers around the world prior to the auction.
The Argyle Underground Mine is one of the most technologically advanced mines in the world, providing opportunities to be at the forefront of mining technology and innovation.
This year, Rio Tinto’s Pink Diamonds Tender collection included 65 rare pink and red diamonds and achieved the highest average price per carat since the Tender began in 1984.
Australia is also the home of the Ellendale diamond mine – the world’s leading source of rare fancy yellow diamonds.
The Ellendale Diamond contributes around half of the world’s supply of fancy yellow diamonds. According to Kimberley’s website, Ellendale is one of only three hard-rock diamond mine locations in Australia. Diamonds were first discovered at Ellendale in an olivine lamproite pipe in November 1976.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Kimberley Diamonds Ltd. placed its subsidiary, Kimberley Diamond Company (KDC), which operated Ellandale, in voluntary administration. Shortly afterwards, administrators of the collapsed mine told creditors they are owed millions of dollars.
According to available KP figures, Australia produced 9,288,231.89 carats of rough diamonds valued at $304,319,165 in 2014. 9,760,718 of carats were exported in 2014, at a value of $293,980,666.