Rio Tinto has opened a fourth diamond pipe at the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
The open pit pipe, called A21, will provide a source of incremental supply for Rio Tinto over the next four years to sustain production levels at the remote mine.
Rio Tinto delivered first ore from the pipe in March. It is expected to be at full production in the fourth quarter of 2018 following a four-year construction period and a $350 million investment.
The investment was shared between Rio Tinto (60 per cent) and Dominion Diamond Corp (40 per cent).
Arnaud Soirat, Rio Tinto copper and diamonds chief executive, said the investment to sustain production levels at Diavik reflected the strong outlook the company saw for the diamond industry.
“It is a remarkable achievement to deliver this project safely and ahead of time in such a challenging environment, positioning Diavik to continue meeting the demand for its outstanding diamonds,” Soirat said.
The mine began production in 2003 and has been a underground operation since 2012. It produces predominantly gem quality diamonds that are used for high-end jewellery in the world’s major consumer markets.
Diavik Diamond Mines president Patrick Boitumelo added, “Our people can take great pride in their achievement to safely bring the A21 pipe from development to commercial production.
“This new pipe is great news for the Northwest Territories and will help to deliver economic and social benefits that will endure beyond the life of the Diavik mine.”