HomeDiamonds & GemstonesNo Zimbabwe expansion for Rio Tinto

No Zimbabwe expansion for Rio Tinto

Murowa diamond mine
in Zimbabwe
Antwerp, Belgium — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 July 2008 – Rio Tinto Group – the world’s second-largest mining company – says the political situation in Zimbabwe needs to improve before it will consider any expansion of its diamond mine in the country.

Reporting from the World Diamond Council annual meeting here, Bloomberg News quotes Rio Tinto Diamonds general manager Jean-Marc Lieberherr as saying that while Rio – which controls the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe – won’t withdraw from the country, it won’t invest until the investment climate improves.

“There are some very obvious reasons why we aren’t investing there at the moment, and why we won’t until the situation stabilises,” Lieberherr said. “We believe in the mine and we need the goods.”

Murowa – the country’s only operating diamond mine – currently produces about 300 000 carats a year. “It would take about two years to expand to full annual output of 1.8 million carats, provided the board decided to invest,” Lieberherr added.

Bloomberg reports that Anglo American Plc is also reviewing its plan to continue development of the country’s Unki platinum mine, after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week urged companies to review their investments in the country.

RioZim Ltd. – a Zimbabwean-owned company – owns 22% of Murowa with Rio controlling the rest.