Global diamond company Rio Tinto will be investing to the tune of US$ 500 million in developing a diamond mine at Bunder in Madhya Pradesh, which is likely to start commercial production from 2016, a top company official said on Friday.
"The Bunder project is likely to come into commercial production in 2016. (It) presents enormous opportunities not only for Madhya Pradesh region, but for broader Indian diamond industry as well," Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Bruce Cox told reporters in Mumbai.
An estimated US$ 500 million (Rs 2200 crore) will be invested in developing a world class Bunder diamond mine that will generate significant direct and indirect employment and support thousands of jobs in the Indian diamond and jewellery manufacturing industries, he said.
The government of Madhya Pradesh has supported us from the very beginning in our quest to develop a new benchmark for mine development in India, Rio Tinto India managing director Nik Senapati said.
The mine was discovered in 2004 by Rio Tinto and in 2010 the company signed a State Support Agreement (SSA) with the state government towards endorsement of mutual commitment to the development of the project.
Under the project, an inferred resource (the first quantifiable estimate of an ore-body) has been defined at 37 million tonne containing 27.4 million carats.
The state government gave an in-principle nod in January 2012 for the project mining lease.
Once developed, the project is expected to catapult Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world.
Meanwhile, Rio Tinto on Friday unveiled the inaugural Bunder diamond jewellery collection comprising diamonds from the sampling to date since discovery of the mine in 2004.
"Eight years after our initial discovery, we can showcase these exquisite pieces of jewellery that provide a window into the enormous potential of the gems contained in the Bunder deposit," Senapati said.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also present on the occasion.