The Argyle mine in Western Australia, renowned as a source of pink diamonds, has celebrated its final day of operations after 37 years, having exhausted its economic reserves.
Arnaud Soirat, Rio Tinto’s chief executive of Copper & Diamonds, said, “Fifty years ago there were very few people who believed there were diamonds in Australia – even fewer could have foreseen how the Argyle story would unfold.
“To arrive at this final chapter has required vision, courage and determination to overcome significant challenges to enter new territory in diamond exploration, mining and marketing.”
The Argyle ore body, a single pipe known as AK1, was discovered in October 1979.
Alluvial operations began in 1983, open pit mining began in 1985 and the mine became a fully underground operation in 2013.
Over this period the mine has produced more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds becoming the world’s largest producer of coloured diamonds and virtually the sole source of a very small but consistent supply of rare pink diamonds.
Argyle employees, traditional owners and local stakeholders attended an event at the mine, signalling the formal transition from an operational mine to the commencement of closure.
The closure process is expected to take some five years to decommission and dismantle the mine and undertake rehabilitation, followed by a further period of monitoring.
Argyle will employ a smaller workforce post the final mining and diamond production activities, continuing to contribute to the local economy.
Abdul Jenzarli, underground operator of the last tonne of ore from the Argyle diamond mine