Occasionally, an event has a far greater significance than its size and immediate impact suggest. One such took place in India this week, when Rio Tinto Diamonds handed over the first rough diamonds from its Bunder Diamond Project in Madhya Pradesh (MP) to some chosen Indian diamantaires for cutting and polishing. By August, the gems will be transformed into diamond jewellery and displayed at IIJS, Mumbai.
No figures of the carats involved were released, but Rio said the exercise will provide valuable information for evaluating Bunder. Studies have indicated that the mine could have an ‘inferred resource’ of 37 million tonnes of ore containing 27.4 million carats. If realised, it would place MP in the top ten diamond producing regions worldwide.
It is of course still very early days. In terms of investment, only Rs 300 crore of the Rs 2,200 crore required to make the mine fully operable, has been spent.
But the significance of finally locating what appear to be commercially viable deposits in India should not be lost. It comes after well over a decade of exploration across a number of states by different mining companies, including De Beers and Rio Tinto.
Given that India is already the world’s largest diamond manufacturer, and has emerged as one of the top four diamond consuming markets, an operational mine with substantial rough will help complete the link from mines to market. It can only further consolidate India’s leadership position in the diamond world.