Rio Tinto sets $350m aside to expand Canada’s Diavik diamond mine

Rio Tinto sets $350m aside to expand Canada’s Diavik diamond mine

Diavik mine is located in diamond-rich and remote North West Territories.

Mining giant Rio Tinto (LON:RIO), the majority owner of Canada’s Diavik diamond mine has decided to spend part of its much reduced capital spending budget expanding the operation, in a move that’s reinforces the company’s renewed commitment to its diamonds business.

The US$350 million-investment in Diavik —one of Canada’s oldest diamond mines— will allow for a fourth pipe to be developed at the site, with production expected to start by 2018.

Rio's diamond and minerals boss Alan Davies said the investment was a sign of the company's confidence in the sector and the mine, which was put up for sale in 2012, but the taken off the market as Rio was unable to find a suitable buyer.

Diavik is located in the North West Territories, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, close to the Ekati mine that Dominion Diamond Corporation —previously known as "Harry Winston"—  bought from BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) in 2013.

The area has attracted recent interest from mineral explorers, particularly those involved in diamond exploration. Gahcho Kue, a large diamond deposit located southeast of Diavik and Ekati, is expected to become one of the largest and richest new diamond mines in the world.

The $700 million project is jointly owned by DeBeers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds (TSX, NYSE:MDM).

Other than Diavik, Rio holds a 78% interest in the Murowa diamond mine in Zimbabwe and it is the sole owner of the Argyle mine in Australia.

Image courtesy of Diavik Diamond Mine.