Opening of underground mine will extend life of Argyle diamonds
Rio Tinto, the international mining group has opened a new Argyle underground diamond mine in the east Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The decision to move from open pit mining to underground mining will help extend the life of Argle diamonds until 2020.
The underground mine is the first of its kind in Western Australia and incorporates the latest block caving technologies.
The average annual production over the life of the mine has been forecast to be 20 million carats per year.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by Western Australia’s minister for mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion as well as Traditional Owners, government representatives, Rio Tinto executives and employees.
Rio Tinto diamonds and minerals chief executive Alan Davies said the Argyle mine had produced some of the world’s most spectacular diamonds and had delivered many benefits to the local region.
“The new Argyle underground mine has allowed us to extend the life of this iconic asset for Rio Tinto and Western Australia. I am proud that we can continue our contribution to local employment and the economic development of the East Kimberley region, as we have over the past quarter of a century.”
With 70 % of the workforce living locally, Argyle is one of the largest contributors to the East Kimberley economy. Indigenous Australians account for one in four members of the local workforce.