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  • The Diavik mine in Canada. (Photo courtesy: Rio Tinto)

Rio Tinto Invests $40M in Diavik’s Underground Mining


Australian miner Rio Tinto has approved a $40 million investment in the first phase of underground mining below the existing A21 open pit at its Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada. 


Based on the updated mine plan and production schedule including the A154N and A154S pipes, and subject to approval of the second phase of the A21 underground project, Diavik deposit is now expected to end commercial production in the first quarter of 2026, said Rio Tinto. The mine was previously expected to reach the end of its life span in 2025. 


Phase one of underground mining of Diaviks A21 pipe is expected to deliver an additional 1.4 million carats of rough diamonds. Current employees and contractors will be transitioned from other areas of the mine for both the construction and production phases of the project. Diavik expects to seek approval for Phase two of the A21 underground project in the first half of 2024. Phase two is expected to deliver an additional 800,000 carats of rough diamonds, the company explained.


Sinead Kaufman, chief executive of Rio Tinto Minerals said: Rio Tintos decision to support the underground development of the A21 pipe was prefaced on compelling industry fundamentals, our proven capacity to safely develop diamond mines in extreme conditions, and a track record in competing successfully in the global diamond industry.”


Diavik is Rio Tinto’s last remaining diamond deposit, and is Canada’s largest diamond mine in terms of production with 6-7 million carats of rough diamonds produced each year. Since mining began in 2003, Diavik has produced over 100 million carats of diamonds. Construction of the A21 open pit commenced in 2015 and it was finished safely and ahead of time to commence commercial production in 2018. 


Rio Tinto closed its Argyle mine in Australia in November 2020. It took full ownership of Diavik after its former partner Dominion Diamond Mines in November 2021. 


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