Rio Tinto has approved a $40 million investment in underground mining at its Diavik site in Canada, which will extend the deposit’s life into 2026.
The project will enable underground mining of the A21 kimberlite pipe and could add more than 2 million carats to rough production, Rio Tinto said Friday.
The $40 million will cover the first phase of development, which will contribute an additional 1.4 million carats, the company explained. The miner will transition workers and contractors from other areas of Diavik for the construction and production stages.
The second phase is expected to add 800,000 carats of rough. Diavik will seek approval for that part in the first half of next year, it explained.
The updated mine plan, which also includes expected output from the A154N and A154S pipes, will keep Diavik in production into the first quarter of 2026. The mine was previously expected to reach the end of its life span in 2025.
“Rio Tinto’s 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,” said Sinead Kaufman, CEO of Rio Tinto Minerals.
Diavik is Rio Tinto’s last remaining diamond deposit. It closed its Argyle mine in Australia in November 2020 and has put its Star-Orion South project in Canada on hold while it considers offloading its share of the joint-venture with Star Diamond. In 2021, Rio Tinto took full ownership of Diavik after its former partner, Dominion Diamond Mines, filed for insolvency protection.
Image: The Diavik mine. (Rio Tinto)