Mumbai: The Indian diamond industry, which has been perpetually starved of rough stones for cutting and polishing, was eagerly awaiting this announcement. On Thursday, Rio Tinto Diamonds, owner of the Argyle diamond mine in Australia, said that it would invest $760 million for expansion of the mine. It also plans to establish a centralised diamond sorting facility, most probably in Mumbai.
The Argyle mine is vital for the growth of the domestic diamond industry as more than 90% of the output finds it way here. The expansion is also likely to prolong the mine’s life, which would have otherwise closed in 2008. “It is the best news that I have heard in recent times. Finally, the efforts of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJPEC) and the Indian government have borne fruit.
The expansion of Argyle will ensure that we get more rough and the reduction of royalty will also help us,” said Sanjay Kothari, former chairman, GJEPC. The declining output from Argyle had directly hit the Indian diamond industry.At the Mines To Market conference held in Mumbai in May, analyst Chaim Evan-Zohar of Tacy said that the 10 million fewer carats produced by Argyle Mine in the last few years had hit between 60,000 to 70,000 jobs in India’s cutting and polishing industry.
Argyle sells most of the uncut stones via the world’s major diamond trading centre of Antwerp in Belgium, where Indian companies have offices. Domestic companies purchase Argyle’s uncut stones and transport them to India for cutting. .