The majority of diamonds from the Argyle mine are sold as 'rough' or uncut stones. The entire Argyle production is used in jewellery and finds a home in all major consumer markets around the world.
Between 1983 and 1996, most of the Argyle rough diamonds were sold via two sales agreements with De Beers. The first agreement (1983-1991) helped provide industry and investor confidence in the viability of the mine. It also gave the company time to gain expertise in the sorting and valuation of its diamonds, as well as in marketing them. Diamond industry analysis conducted during this period provided the foundation for marketing systems that were eventually developed. These were used to underpin the establishment of a competitive advantage for Argyle in the market place.
Critical to the company's marketing strategy, from as early as 1983, were sales direct to the market. This provided verification for the rough diamond prices received within the contractual agreements. A direct sales office in Antwerp, Belgium was opened in 1985, and a representative office in Mumbai, India in 1989. In 1996, Argyle began to market its entire production of rough diamonds through its Antwerp office in Belgium. The US representative office in New York was opened in 2007 and the Hong Kong representative office in 2010.
The majority of customers for the Argyle production are Indian based companies. and the Indian cutting industry has been an important platform for developing the market for the small, coloured diamonds that characterise the Argyle production.
In June 2002 the sales office in Antwerp, Belgium was expanded to provide a centralised sorting, sales and marketing service to all diamond mines in the Rio Tinto Group. In addition to the Argyle Diamond mine, Rio Tinto owns a 60 per cent share in the Diavik Diamond mine in Canada, and a 78 per cent share in the Murowa Diamond mine in Zimbabwe. Rio Tinto also has an advanced diamond project, Bunder, in India. For more information on the Bunder Project, see the Bunder Project Facts at a Glance.
For more information, visit Rio Tinto Diamonds.