Rio Tinto has released its third quarter production results, reporting that diamond production increased 3.4 percent to 4.4 million carats in the three months ended September 30. The company’s share of production at the Diavik Mine in Canada jumped 22% to 927,000 carats (Rio Tinto holds 60 percent of Diavik, the remainder of which is held by Dominion Diamond Corporation). Meanwhile, production at the 100%-owned Argyle mine in Western Australia fell 0.6% to 3.5 million carats. Carats produced at Argyle in the first nine months of 2016 rose to 10.38 million carats, 3% higher than the 10.11 million carats recovered during the corresponding period in 2015 following continued ramp-up of the underground mine resulting in higher volumes processed, which was partially offset by lower grades.
On Wednesday, Dominion Diamonds released a full account of Q3 production at Diavik: Dominion states that processing volumes in the third calendar quarter of 2016 were 22% higher than in the same quarter of the prior year primarily due to higher ore availability; diamond recovery was also 22% higher than in the same quarter of the prior year reflecting higher processing volumes. In total, production at Diavik in Q3 2016 was 1.54 million carats, from 1.27 million carats in Q3 2015. For the first nine months of this year, production totaled 5.0 million carats compared with 4.91 million carats last year.
Despite the increases in Q3 production, Rio Tinto slightly lowered its diamond production guidance for 2016 to 18 - 20 million carats (previously 18 - 21 million carats).