Rio Tinto has handed over the Bunder diamond project in India to the Government of Madhya Pradesh after a comprehensive review.
Rio Tinto announced in August last year that it would not proceed with the development of Bunder due to commercial considerations and would be seeking to close all project infrastructure. Under a state directive signed in January 2017, the Government of Madhya Pradesh said it will accept ownership and take on responsibility for the Bunder assets.
The inventory of assets and associated infrastructure handed over to the government comprises all land, plant, equipment and vehicles at the Bunder project site. The inventory will also include diamond samples recovered during exploration. This approach will assist the government to package the assets if it were to proceed with an auction process for the Bunder mineral rights.
Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive Arnaud Soirat commented, “Our exit from Bunder is the latest example of Rio Tinto streamlining its asset portfolio. It simplifies our business, allowing us to focus on our world-class assets.
“We believe in the value and quality of the Bunder project and support its future development, and the best way to achieve that is to hand over the assets to the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Rio Tinto has long and enduring ties with India and we continue to see the nation as an important market for our metals and minerals and as a key hub for Rio Tinto’s business services.”
Rio Tinto said it remains committed to its diamond business and the Indian diamond industry through its world-class underground mines, the Argyle diamond mine in Australia and the Diavik diamond mine in Canada. It also continues to enjoy a strong partnership with the Indian diamond industry, with more than 250,000 diamond cutters and polishers employed in processing Rio Tinto diamonds, the company said.