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Rio Tinto 4Q08 Diamond Production -12%

Jan 15, 2009 3:09 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... Rio Tinto reported Thursday that its fourth quarter 2008 diamond production fell 12 percent, having registered declines at all of its operations. Production dropped to 6.854 million carats during the three months ending December 31, 2008, according to the fourth quarter operations review released by Rio Tinto.

Production at Rio Tinto’s fully-owned flagship Argyle mine in Australia decreased 12 percent to 5.253 million carats. Output from the mine will continue to decline further in the short term, as Rio Tinto announced Wednesday that it would scale back production in response to prevailing weak economic conditions and as part of its debt-reduction scheme. The company added that it would slow down the transition of Argyle to underground mining for the same reasons.

Rio Tinto’s share of production at the Diavik mine in Canada was down 12 percent during the quarter to 1.558 million carats, primarily due to the overall reduction in grade that commenced in the quarter. Rio Tinto owns 60 percent of Diavik, with Harry Winston Diamond Corporation holding the remaining 40 percent. Production at Rio Tinto's 78 percent owned Murowa mine in Zimbabwe fell 7 percent to 43,000 carats.

Rio Tinto’s full-year diamond production decreased 20 percent to 20.816 million carats. Production at Argyle dropped 20 percent to 15.076 million carats in 2008, and at Diavik it was down 23 percent to 5.535 million carats, while output from Murowa rose 81 percent to 205,000 carats. Rio Tinto is the world's third-largest diamond producer, behind De Beers and ALROSA.

Tags: Alrosa, Argyle, Australia, De Beers, Diavik, Harry Winston, Production, Rio Tinto, Zimbabwe
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