Rio Tinto has maintained its diamond-production outlook for 2020 despite market shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The miner expects to produce between 12 million to 14 million carats from its Argyle mine in Australia and its Diavik deposit in Canada during the year, it noted Friday. The forecast comes even as diamond output dropped 10% year on year in the first quarter.
The company recovered 3.4 million carats for the three months ending March 31. The Argyle mine yielded 2.6 million carats, a 7% decrease compared to the same period last year. Rio Tinto has been reducing its output from the site in preparation for its closure in the fourth quarter of the year.
Rio Tinto’s share of production at Diavik fell 15% to 857,000 carats. The lower grades recovered at the deposit were partially offset by higher ore processing, the company said. Rio Tinto owns a 60% stake in the mine, with Dominion Diamond Mines holding the remainder.
Challenging conditions persist in key markets throughout the diamond industry due to COVID-19, the miner noted.
“In particular, there has been a demand slump due to a retail shutdown during peak season, as well as lower rough-diamond demand from people-movement restrictions in India,” the company added.
Rio Tinto has also scaled back activities at its Falcon exploration project in Saskatchewan, Canada, amid the coronavirus outbreak. The company is currently processing bulk samples from 2019 at the site.
Image: An aerial view of the Diavik mine. (Diavik Diamond Mines)