Argyle currently operates an open pit mine to recover diamonds from the AK1 lamproite pipe. In addition, alluvial mining has been an important part of Argyle's history. Commencing in 1983 the alluvial operations involved the mining of ancient creek beds where diamonds have been washed down over millions of years. Today the Argyle mining operation comprises an open pit which will continue until around 2010. The ore body continues at depth, and for this reason an underground mine is being developed that will extend the life of the mine to at least 2018.
The diamonds produced by the Argyle mine are found in a range of colours including white, champagne and pink. Argyle is the world's primary source of rare pink diamonds, which have become Argyle’s signature stone.
The diamonds recovered at the mine are sent to Rio Tinto Diamonds’ sales and marketing office in Antwerp Belgium, where they are sorted and prepared for sale. The majority of the diamonds from the Argyle mine are sold as rough diamonds, primarily to an Indian customer base comprising diamond traders and manufacturers.
The rare pink diamonds from the Argyle mine are all cut and polished and sold as loose polished diamonds to an international customer base. The Argyle Pink Diamonds business has its headquarters in Perth, Western Australia, also the location of its state-of-the art cutting factory. The Perth factory cuts and polishes the finest pink diamonds from the Argyle Mine that are then sold via an exclusive tender.
Argyle is committed to a number of key priorities that are essential to the success of its mining operations. These include the safety of all employees, the preservation of the environment and the development of strong and enduring relationships with local communities.
Argyle contributes significantly to Western Australia's economy through the creation of hundreds of jobs and the generation of millions of dollars in exports. Regionally Argyle is a significant contributor to the East Kimberley in employment, infrastructure, tourism and flow-on business. Since the mine commenced, royalties paid to the state government have exceeded A$970 million. Argyle also contributes a significant amount to the Commonwealth government by way of income tax. In addition Argyle contributes funds to charities, educational, cultural and community based programmes and special projects.