RIO Tinto, the world second largest miner said production at its Zimbabwe’s diamond unit, Murowa fell 12 percent in the quarter to March 2014 due to lower ore grades and the excessive rains.“Murowa recovered 69 000 carats during quarter, but at a slower pace compared to a 34 percent decline during the quarter ended December 2013,” Rio Tinto said in a statement yesterday.
Rio Tinto owns 79 percent in Murowa, a unit it once wanted to sell alongside its other diamond operations. It also jointly owns vast coal fields in Gokwe with RioZim on a 50-50 percent shareholding basis.
“First quarter carats recovered at Murowa were lower than the same period in 2013 due to lower grades, slightly lower ore processed and the impact of wet weather on mining operations, which were partially offset by processing previously stockpiled material,” said Rio Tinto.
At Argyle, carats recovered were 24 percent higher to 2,4 million tonnes compared to the first quarter of 2013, reflecting higher grade ore from the underground mine and the processing of highly concentrated tailings.
Production in the first quarter of 2014 was 22 percent lower than in the fourth quarter last year due to the exhaustion of all remaining open pit stockpiles in the fourth quarter and significant wet weather experienced in January and February which temporarily impacted on mining and processing operations.
Diavik had a strong operational performance in the first quarter with a 17 percent increase in ore processed. However, due to a greater proportion of mined and processed ore coming from the lower grade pipe in the quarter, carats recovered were 4 percent lower than the first quarter of 2013 to 1,1 million carats.
The Anglo-Australian mining company is one of the world’s largest diamond producers in an industry dominated by De Beers and Russia’s Alrosa, but the business is a relatively small earnings driver.