Rio Tinto will dig the last diamonds up from the ground at its Argyle deposit in Australia on Tuesday, marking the end of an era in the industry.
The company will continue to sift through ore at the adjacent processing plant until December, and will hold the final rough sale at the end of that month, a company spokesperson said.
Rio Tinto first began operations at Argyle in 1983, with the site since becoming the world’s largest diamond mine by volume, producing more than 825 million carats of rough over its lifetime. The deposit is most famous for its colored diamonds, with more than 90% of the world’s rare pink and red diamonds originating from the mine, according to Rio Tinto.
Those pink diamonds take longer to process than general run-of-mine goods, the company noted. Rio Tinto will continue to sell them into the coming year, and will hold its final Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender in 2021.
Once Rio Tinto completes the final production from Argyle, it will undertake a decommissioning, dismantling and rehabilitation process that will last approximately five years.