Rio Tinto, 100 per cent owner of the Argyle diamond mine in Australia and the operator and 60 percent owner of the Diavik diamond mine in Canada, has put in place extensive controls through a combination of testing, screening, sanitising and social distancing, that have allowed it to continue to safely operate through the pandemic. Both mines have also assisted in food security initiatives for local communities.
Sinead Kaufman, Managing director operations for Rio Tinto’s copper and diamond mines said, “I am really proud of the way our sites have pivoted with the challenges of producing diamonds in a pandemic. By keeping our miners safe at Argyle and Diavik we have been able to support a wide array of stakeholders including community partners, customers, suppliers and governments.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis Rio Tinto’s diamonds sales and marketing teams have also implemented safety measures to maintain a safe flow of diamonds through its Antwerp and Perth offices, thereby safeguarding the livelihoods of many in the industry.
The recent Rio Tinto Specials Tender in Antwerp offered a combination of large rough Argyle and Diavik diamonds and saw solid participation and sale results. Included in the Specials Tender was a 70.36 carat white diamond from the Diavik mine, attracting strong competing bids. The two largest white rough diamonds from the Argyle mine, weighing 42.62 carats and 41.70 carats and collectively known as The Brilliant Lights of Argyle, were also sold through this Tender, demonstrating an underlying confidence in rare, high quality natural diamonds, even in the most challenging market conditions.
Alan Chirgwin, Vice president of sales and marketing for Rio Tinto’s copper and diamonds business said, “Market conditions are tough, there are unprecedented supply chain issues around the globe and so to be able to continue to operate in these times, from the mine to the market, is a testament to the resilience and innovation of our diamonds business.”