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Gem Leadership: The Story of Rio Tinto Diamonds

Rio Tinto Group is a British-Australian multinational metals and mining corporation and is among the world leaders in the production of aluminum, iron ore, copper, uranium, coal, gold and diamonds.

Rio Tinto Diamonds, a top-three diamond producer, operates three major mines: Argyle in Australia, producer of more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds since it began operating in 1983; Diavik in Canada (in which Rio Tinto has a 60% stake), operational since 2003 and producer of 6-7 million carats of mostly large, white gem-quality diamonds; and Murowa in Zimbabwe, operational since 2004, producer of over one million carats. Rio Tinto also has an advanced exploration project at Bunder, India, where it has recently discovered a cluster of eight diamondiferous pipes.

In 2015, Rio Tinto’s diamond production increased to 17.4 million carats from 13.87 million carats in 2014, while its earnings dropped 30% to $189 million. The increased production was due to a number of factors, including higher volumes at Argyle. The drop in earnings was partly due to weaker product pricing, lower sales volumes due to weaker markets, and reduced demand in India and China.

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