Environmental groups oppose Rio Tinto's massive Indian diamond mine

Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) is on the defensive after two Indian environmental groups claimed that the company's plans to build a massive diamond mine would lead to "large scale destruction" of forested areas, the Times of India reported.

A company spokesman in India called the accusations a "misrepresentation of facts."

Rio Tinto has not yet begun mining at the Bunder diamond project, located in the Madhya Pradesh region, 500 kilometres southeast of Delhi. It is the company's most advanced diamond project and has an estimated diamond content of 34.2 million carats.

Bunder was granted mine plan approval last year and Rio Tinto is now working on securing environmental and forestry approvals.

Opponents say the mine would destroy a large area of forested land. The company says the total forest area of the proposed mine "comprises only 0.005% of the total forest area" of the district where the mine would be located, the Times of India wrote.

The groups also say that the mine would destroy the livelihoods of the local tribal people.

Once developed, the Bunder diamond mine would put Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world, according to the company.