Asia diamond thirst behind Rio's 800 million dollar spend

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Resources giant Rio Tinto Tuesday said it would spend 803 million US dollars speeding up work at an Australian diamond mine to meet galloping demand from China and India's emerging middle class.

The Anglo-Australian miner said it would ramp up work at its underground Argyle diamond project in the resource-rich Kimberley region on the west coast to achieve annual production of nine million tonnes within two years.

"This investment in the Argyle underground underlines our commitment to and confidence in the world diamond industry," said Rio diamonds chief Harry Kenyon-Slaney.

"A significant supply gap is expected to emerge in the medium to long term and the outlook for demand is strong, driven by the growth of emerging markets," Kenyon-Slaney said in a statement.

A Rio spokesman said they were seeing "increasing marketing in China and India, where people are moving into the middle class and increasing consumer spending."

Argyle is the world's largest producer of pink diamonds, accounting for some 90 percent of global supply. It also produces champagne, cognac and white diamond varieties.

Diamonds giant DeBeers invested 922 million dollars in August to expand its Namibian mining operations, noting that demand in China and India was particularly robust in its February annual report.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

© 2010 AFP

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