Rio Tinto posted strong fourth quarter production in its diamond division, with increases at its Argyle Mine in Australia as well as the Diavik Mine in NWT Canada, in which Rio Tinto owns a 60 percent interest (Dominion Diamond 40%). At Argyle, Rio Tinto produced 3.6 million carats in Q4, a 6% increase over Q4 production in 2015. For the year 2016, carat production was four per cent higher than 2015 following the ramp-up of the underground mine, with higher ore throughput partially offset by a lower recovered grade. Total 2016 production at Argyle was just under 14 million carats. Likewise at Diavik, a 10% jump in carats recovered in Q4 contributed to four percent higher productoin overall in 2016 than 2015. This marks the second straight quarter of strong production at Diavik after Q3 production ended up 22%. Rio Tinto equally attributes the increase to higher ore throughput offsetting lower grades, the company said in a press release. Rio Tinto's 60% share of Diavik production yielded just under 4 million carats.
Total diamond production for the year ended 3.68% higher than in 2015, at 17.95 million carats. Total production for the fourth quarter 2016 ended 3.5% higher than in 2015, at 4.57 million carats. in Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “We have delivered a strong operational performance in 2016, underpinned by our drive for efficiency and maximising cash flow. Our disciplined approach remains in place in 2017, with the continued focus on productivity, cost reduction and commercial excellence. This will ensure that we continue to deliver value for our shareholders.”