RAPAPORT... BHP Billiton reported a drop in diamond production at its Ekati diamond mine in Canada for the six months that ended on December 31, 2011. The mining giant recovered 938,000 carats during its first fiscal-half, representing a 32 percent drop from one year earlier. Production for the company's second-quarter fell 29 percent to 481,000 carats.
BHP's outlook for the Ekati remains constrained in the medium-term as operations extract lower grade material, consistent with the mine plan. During the quarter, BHP also announced a review of its diamond business, including the group’s possible sale of interest in Ekati. The review is ongoing.