The Argyle diamond mine, located in East Kimberley, Western Australia, is responsible for producing more than 9o per cent of the world’s pink diamonds. Today this mine will close forever.
The mine, along with the company Argyle Pink Diamonds is owned by the mining giant Rio Tinto Corporation. Launched in 1983, the mine has garnered much attention for the exquisite stones it has produced. Rio Tinto has been in the diamond mining business for close to 40 years and has managed to carve its niche by producing gems that combine beauty and integrity.
The mine employed over 300 staff and was a pioneer of cutting-edge technology like the sophisticated X-ray sorting technology and Block cave mining.
The mine is most renowned for producing natural coloured diamonds – white, champagne, cognac, blue, and violet. However, its most coveted production is of the rare pink and red diamonds. The closure of the mine is predicted to create a substantial shortage of pink diamonds.
London-based jewellery historian and author Vivienne Becker says Rio Tinto has been an industry leader in sustainability. “Because diamonds were a new commodity to Rio Tinto, they were able to approach the whole industry with really fresh eyes,” she said.
The price of each diamond can vary significantly based on its hue. The source of colour in diamonds can be due to the presence of other trace elements. The colour and its intensity are critical factors that drive demand and price.
According to Christie’s, the world’s largest auction house, “If a pink diamond is not from the Argyle mine, it will generally sell for an average of 50% less than an equivalent Argyle certified Pink diamond.”
In its lifetime, the Argyle mine has produced 825 million carats of rough diamonds.
Rio Tinto chief executive of Copper and Diamonds, Arnaud Soirat said “Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine is the first and only ongoing source of rare pink, red and violet diamonds in the world. We have seen, and continue to see, strong demand for these highly coveted diamonds, which together with extremely limited global supply, supports the significant value appreciation for Argyle pink diamonds.”
For almost four decades, the Argyle mine is said to have contributed nearly 18 per cent of all diamonds in circulation today.
As the mine’s closure approaches, plans for decommissioning and then rehabilitating are underway. These decisions have been taken under the supervision of the Board’s Sustainability Committee.
Patrick Coppens, General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Rio Tinto’s diamonds business said “The Argyle pink diamond story has continued to enthral throughout the years following the remarkable discovery of the Argyle mine in 1979.”
Although the mine still has diamonds, its closure is primarily due to rising extraction costs as the mine grows deeper, according to IBISWorld. This has made mining operations unviable. This closure will reportedly disrupt global diamond market. This makes the 35th Argyle Diamond Tender a crucial opportunity for a select few collectors of these rare diamonds.
The 2019 collection presents 64 rare pink and red diamonds from the Argyle mine. This includes three Fancy Red diamonds that weigh 56.28 carats in total.
It is reported that this closure will also bring the the diamond mining industry in Australia to a grinding halt, at least until new resources are located.