Mining giant Rio Tinto produced 9.206 million carats of rough diamonds in the third quarter of 2006, up 9 percent from the second quarter and up 37 percent from the third quarter of 2005. However, production in the first three quarters of 2006 dropped to 25.6 million carats, off 9 percent compared to 2005. The company wholly owns the Argyle Mine in Western Australia, and has a 78 percent stake in the Murowa Mine in Zimbabwe and a 60 percent stake in Diavik in Canada�s Northwest Territories. Production at Argyle totaled 8.33 million carats in third quarter due to higher grades, up from 7.509 million carats in the second quarter and up from 5.995 million carats in the third quarter of 2005. Production in the first three quarters at Argyle fell to 21.052 million carats from 24.021 million carats in the corresponding period of 2005. The open pit at Argyle will be exhausted by 2008, when underground operations will begin, extending the life of the mine 10 years.
At Diavik, Rio Tinto�s share of record rough diamond production rose 30 percent to 1.697 million carats from 1.306 million carats in the third quarter of 2005. The total for the first three quarter of 2006 rose to 4.402 million carats from 3.865 million carats in 2005, even though the winter ice road closed early this year. The company attributed the improved results at Diavik to better throughput.
Rio Tinto�s share of the Murowa production was 44,000 carats in the third quarter of 2006 and 148,000 carats in the first nine months of 2006. The company said that as regards diamond prospecting, it was concentrating on Canada, Botswana, Mauritania, India and Brazil.