The Argyle diamond mine
The Argyle Diamond Mine, which is 100 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, has been operating since 1983. The mine has produced over 750 million carats of rough diamonds and generated more than US$6 billion in revenue.
Located in the east Kimberley region in the remote north of Western Australia, the Argyle mine is the world's largest supplier of diamonds. The Argyle Mine's production accounts for approximately one-fifth of the world's natural diamond production.
Argyle operates an open pit mine to recover diamonds from the site's AK1 lamproite pipe.
The AK1 pipe continues at depth, and in 2005, the Rio Tinto Board approved the recommendation to proceed with an underground mine below the existing AK1 open pit. This will extend the life of the mine to at least 2020. Following a transition from the current open pit operation, the undergound mine will be fully operational in 2014.
The diamonds recovered at Argyle are sorted and prepared for international sale by Rio Tinto Diamonds' sales and marketing team in Antwerp, Belgium. The majority of customers for the non pink Argyle product are based in India where a Rio Tinto Diamonds representative office is located in Mumbai. Argyle's polished pink diamonds are sold to an international customer base comprising traders, jewellery manufacturers, jewellery designers and luxury retailers.
The Argyle mine is characterised by a high level of efficiency, safety and productivity, coupled with a commitment to quality management, a skilled workforce and state-of-the-art technology. Argyle is committed to a number of key priorities that are essential to the success of its mining operations, including the safety of all employees, the preservation of the environment and the development of strong and enduring relationships with local communities. Regionally Argyle is a significant contributor to the east Kimberley in employment, infrastructure, tourism and flow-on business.