Rio Tinto, Harry Winston On Track for 24% Boost to Diavik Diamond Production
Harry Winston Diamond (TSX: HW, NYSE: HWD) and its mining partner Rio Tinto look to be on track to churn out 8.3 million carats in 2012 at their co-owned Diavik diamond mine – or about 24 percent more than in 2011 – according to the latest Diavik production figures.
In the first quarter 2012, Harry Winston, which owns 40 percent of the Diavik mine, said the mine’s production grew 19 percent over the same quarter a year ago to 1.6 million carats, owing largely to a boost in recovered carats from reprocessed ore. The reprocessed ore accounted for 0.08 million carats of the quarterly diamond output.
The higher quarterly production put the diamond partners on pace with Diavik guidance for 2012: 8.3 million carats as compared to 6.7 million carats in 2011.
During the quarter diamond grades improved to 3 carats per tonne from 2.8 carats a tonne a year ago and edged the partners closer to grades as defined in proven and probable reserves. At last count Rio Tinto and Harry Winston said Diavik held 19 million tonnes @ 3.1 carat per tonne for 59 million carats in proven and probable reserves.
Meanwhile, based on the latest production figures published by Harry Winston on Tuesday morning, Diavik diamond prices held more or less steady.
Still up in the air is the question of what will become of Rio Tinto’s majority interest in the Diavik operation. Rio Tinto, which owns 60 percent of the Diavik mine, said earlier this year it was considering what to do with its diamond assets, which includes diamond mines in Australia and Zimbabwe.
These, it has been reported by the Sunday Times and in these pages, might be combined with BHP Billiton’s diamond assets – also under review – to form one of the world’s largest diamond producers.
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