HARARE - Global miner Rio Tinto says production at its Zimbabwe-based Murowa Diamonds (Murowa) went up seven percent to 344 000 carats in the year to December 2014 from 322 000 carats produced prior year.
It said the performance is on the back of improved throughput and grades, and increased ore processed.
Carats recovered during the period’s last quarter stood at 101 000,12 percent higher than previous quarter’s 90 000 carats.
“We have had a successful year of production, capped off with a robust fourth quarter. Output is in line with our targets across all of our major products,” said Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh.
In 2013, Rio Tinto reversed a decision to dispose its diamond operations after the market failed to meet its asking price.
The move disappointed seven potential suitors who had been linked to the takeover of part of or the entire Rio Tinto stake in Murowa, in which it controls 78 percent while the other 22 percent is held by RioZim.
Walsh told delegates at a recent investors’ seminar held in the United Kingdom that the company’s market-leading diamonds and minerals businesses are well-positioned to increase margins in line with growing demand fuelled by the emergence of the middle class in China and other emerging economies.
“Diamonds and minerals products are used in consumer and high-end industrial applications and as such linked to the rising wealth of emerging economies,” he said.
At Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia, carats recovered during the year were 19 percent lower than in 2013, reflecting the move from open pit to underground mining and the processing of lower grades as underground production ramped up.