BHP looks to ditch the diamond business

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BHP Billiton this morning announced it was reviewing its diamonds assets with the view of a potential full or partial sale.

The company said the move was in line with its focus “upstream” mining assets, which don’t require processing requirements like the cutting, polishing, and marketing required in the diamonds business.

“This review will examine whether a continued presence in the diamonds industry is consistent with BHP Billiton’s strategy and evaluate the potential sale of all or part of the diamonds business,” it said in a statement.

Currently BHP owns an 80 per cent stake in the EKATI Diamond mine and a 51 per cent stake in the Chidliak exploration project, both in Canada.

The company said while both Canadian operations were valuable assets there were “few options to develop new diamond mines” consistent with its business strategy.

The EKATI mine was Canada’s first diamond mine and accounts for ten per cent of the global diamond supply.

It is located 310 kilometres northeast of Yelloknife and 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle.

The remaining 20 per cent of its ownership is split evenly between two geologists associated with its original discovery in 1991.

BHP said its diamonds business review would be completed by the end of January next year.

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