Rio Tinto hosted a private event in India to mark the distribution of the first rough diamonds from its Bunder Diamond Project in Madhya Pradesh to selected Indian diamantaires for cutting and polishing. Guests at the event, which took place in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, included the Honorable Mines Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Rajendra Shukla, and the Honorable Member of Parliament, Jitendra Singh Bundela.
The rough diamonds will be processed at manufacturing factories in India, with detailed tracking of each step of the manufacturing process. "The aim is to understand the nature of the product and its potential for the future commercial Bunder production," writes Rio Tinto in a statement, adding that the diamonds will not be available for sale.
Rio Tinto's Bunder diamond project, discovered in 2004, has an Inferred Resource of 37 million tonnes containing 27.4 million carats. In principle, approval for the Bunder project mining lease was issued in January 2012 by the government of Madhya Pradesh. Rio Tinto is now working on the mine plan and environmental approvals required to execute the Mining Lease.
"I am delighted to have reached this milestone in the development of the Bunder Project. Indian diamantaires are best placed to unlock the potential of the Bunder diamonds and the cutting and polishing tests and jewellery manufacturing process will provide us with vital information for the ongoing evaluation of the Bunder Project," says Rio Tinto Diamonds Managing Director Bruce Cox.
The cutting and polishing tests are expected to take two months, followed by the design and manufacture of the gems into the first collection of Bunder diamond jewelry. The collection will be displayed at the Indian International Jewellery Show in Mumbai in August.
"Having been part of the journey from prospecting to mining lease approval in principle, I am proud that we have been able to display in Madhya Pradesh, for the first time, diamonds recovered during our prospecting activities. I am looking forward to seeing the gems and jewellery that can be realised from these beautiful rough diamonds," adds Managing Director of Rio Tinto India Dr Nik Senapati.