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An aerial view of the Argyle Mine – the world's premier source of pink diamonds – which ceased production on 3 November after 37 years of operation.
An aerial view of the Argyle Mine – the world's premier source of pink diamonds – which ceased production on 3 November after 37 years of operation.

End of an era: Argyle Mine officially closed

The source of more than 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamonds, the Argyle Mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, has been permanently closed by owner Rio Tinto after more than 30 years of operation.

The mine’s last day of operation was 3 November, with employees and traditional owners of the land attending an event to mark the start of the closure process.

Andrew Wilson, general manager, Argyle Mine
Andrew Wilson, general manager, Argyle Mine
“A new chapter will now begin as we start the process of respectfully closing the Argyle mine and rehabilitating the land, to be handed back to its traditional custodians”
Andrew Wilson, general manager Argyle Mine

Rio Tinto estimates it will take five years to dismantle and decommission the Argyle site, which will be rehabilitated, monitored, and returned to traditional owners.

Andrew Wilson, general manager of the Argyle Mine, said, “This is an historic day for the Argyle Mine and the east Kimberley region, and a great source of pride for this unique Australian success story.

“A new chapter will now begin as we start the process of respectfully closing the Argyle mine and rehabilitating the land, to be handed back to its traditional custodians.”

Diamonds were discovered in the region in 1979, with alluvial operations commencing four years later. Open pit mining began in 1985, and the Argyle site was transitioned to a fully underground operation in 2013 as its diamond reserves began to be exhausted.

Over its period of operation, the mine has produced more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds and is the world’s largest producer of natural fancy colour diamonds.

Its annual Argyle Tender of colour diamonds began with a 33-stone viewing in Antwerp in 1984, and has since evolved into a staple of the diamond-buying calendar that captivates industry figures and consumers alike.

Arnaud Soirat, chief executive – copper and diamonds at Rio Tinto, said, “50 years ago there were very few people who believed there were diamonds in Australia – even fewer could have foreseen how the Argyle story would unfold. To arrive at this final chapter has required vision, courage and determination to overcome significant challenges to enter new territory in diamond exploration, mining and marketing.”

He added, “Today Argyle’s influence stretches into many spheres and over many continents and I am very proud to acknowledge all those people who have contributed to the discovery and development of the mine and the production of some of the finest diamonds the world has ever seen.”

Bids for the penultimate Argyle Tender – named ‘One Lifetime, One Encounter’ – close on 2 December.

 

More reading:
Rio Tinto announces new diamond tender; mining partner on verge of collapse
2020 Argyle Tender diamonds revealed
 











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