MELBOURNE – More than a decade since its discovery, Rio Tinto said Monday it will shut its Bunder diamond mine in central India by the end of the year, as the world’s second-biggest miner seeks to cut costs and conserve cash.
Bunder remains a top-class diamond deposit and Rio Tinto will work with the federal and Madhya Pradesh state governments to examine options for another investor to take over the project, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Discovered in 2004, development of the mine about 500 km southeast of New Delhi has been stymied by delays in environmental approvals that would allow the clearing of a forested area important to tiger and other wildlife habitats.
Rio Tinto had hoped to bring Bunder into production as early as 2019. Former CEO Sam Walsh pressed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year for the approvals necessary to develop it.
Rio’s exit leaves it with working two diamond projects – the Argyle mine in Western Australia and the Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Walsh was replaced as CEO by Jean-Sebastien Jacques in July.