Rio Tinto Inaugurates Sample Processing Plant at Indian Diamond ProjectOctober 29, 09
Rio Tinto inaugurated a sample processing plant at its Bunder Project in India on Tuesday. The Bunder Project, in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, is comprised of a cluster of eight lamproites and is Rio Tinto’s most advanced diamond project.
According to Rio Tinto, the inauguration of the sample processing plant will help further assess the value and grade of the Bunder diamond deposit.
India is considered the cradle of diamond sourcing, long before prospecting turned to South Africa in the 19th century. Today India is the world’s largest diamond polishing industry and an important consumer market. A local diamond mine will give India a complete pipeline, from mine to finger.
“The Bunder Project is an exciting development for the global diamond industry and is the next step in the development of a world class diamond mine in India,” said Rio Tinto Diamonds Managing Director Bruce Cox.
According to Stefanie Loader, project director of the Bunder Project, the sample processing plant is a unique and state-of-the-art installation, costing $7 million and capable of processing at 10 tonnes per hour.
The plant is entirely modular and does not require any permanent structure. It is also highly automated and designed to minimize the impact on the environment. In addition to noise and dust controls, the plant does not use any chemicals and reduces water consumption through recycling and water harvesting.
Loader went on to say that Rio Tinto was looking forward to working with the Madhya Pradesh community and anticipates bringing significant benefits to the region. The Bunder Project currently employs approximately 220 people, of which 93 percent are from Madhya Pradesh.
Located 500 km south east of Delhi, the Bunder Project’s order of magnitude study identified an inferred resource of 37 million tonnes at a grade of 0.7 carats per tonne.
Rio Tinto expects that Madhya Pradesh would, in terms of volume and value, be in the top 10 diamond producing regions in the world.
The next phase of evaluation of the Bunder Project will involve engineering studies and the social and environmental impacts of a diamond mine. These studies will take two to three years to complete. Rio Tinto estimates the total investment to develop a mine at Bunder Project to be at least $465 million.