Rio Tinto Group, a British-Australian multinational mining giant, announced Thursday that it has approved a 350-million U.S. dollar project to expand a diamond mine in northwestern Canada.
Rio Tinto formally approved the development of a fourth pipe, known as A21, at the remote sub-arctic Diavik mine site, the company said in a press release.
The Diavik joint venture comprised of Rio Tinto, which holds a 60 percent stake in the company, and Dominion Diamond Corporation, which holds the other 40 percent, has given the go-ahead to begin construction next year. The A21 diamond production is planned for late 2018, said Rio Tinto, whose headquarters is in London.
The A21 production will provide an important source of incremental supply for Diavik, ensuring the continuation of existing production levels, it said.
Alan Davies, chief executive of Rio Tinto Diamonds and Minerals, said, "Our decision to invest in the Diavik A21 project reflects our strong confidence in the diamond sector and in our ability to compete effectively in the industry.
The Diavik diamond mine, located 300 km northeast of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories, began production in 2003 and became a fully underground mining operation in 2012.
The mine produces predominantly gem-quality diamonds for high-end jewelry in all major consumer markets around the world.