Rio and BHP should team up: analysts

Argyle mine. Image: Rio Tinto

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Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton could have more success selling their diamond assets if they team up, according to analysts from Nomura.

BHP and Rio’s diamond businesses are valued at $2.2bn and $1.9bn respectively, which represents less than one per cent of each company’s value.

Nomura said while diamonds were no longer contributors to the bottom line if both companies combined assets only De Beers and Russian state-owned Alrosa would have larger diamond businesses.

"The rationale would be the creation of the largest listed diamond company with a solid asset base and lower overall sovereign risk," it said.

Late last month Rio said in a statement it had begun a "strategic review" of its business that would include looking for potential buyers for its diamond assets.

The company, which owns the Argyle diamond mine in WA, said while the diamond market was positive it was a small sector and better suited to other companies.

Late last year BHP announced it was taking similar action, and said the resource did not fit its strategy of finding "upstream" assets that require few processing requirements.

Nomura said the outlook for the diamond industry was good and the assets of BHP and Rio both had strong growth potential.

"The market has positive fundamentals with maturing mines and growing Asian demand," it said.

In January market researcher IBISWorld said diamond mining would be one of the fastest growing industries in Australia in 2012.

Image: ABC News

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