London: UK-headquartered Rio Tinto said on 23 June it has submitted mining lease applications for its Bunder diamond project in Madhya Pradesh.
The mining giant is expecting environmental approval from the Madhya Pradesh government soon for a 10-tonne-per-hour dense media separation plant, which would allow processing of bulk samples at the project site.
Rio Tinto in a regulatory filing here said it expects to spend about Rs135 crore to support continued evaluation of the deposit. The company has already spent more than Rs75 crore till date on evaluating the deposit.
“Diamonds are a significant part of the history of India and an important product for Rio Tinto. We have spent more than Rs100 crore ($25 million) in the last six years on diamond exploration and evaluation in India, and remain excited about the prospects for the Bunder project,” managing director of Rio Tinto in India, Nik Senapati, said.
The application for mining leases is confirmation of our commitment to both mining in India and the global diamond industry,“ he said.
Till date, work on the diamond project at Bunder has covered mapping, 48 drill-holes and five surface bulk samples. Drilling is continuing and further surface bulk sampling to support diamond valuation is underway.
“The exploration target for diamond mineralisation at the Bunder project of 40-70 million tonnes at a grade of between 0.3 and 0.7 carats per tonne. The targeted diamond grades are at least three times greater than the grade of the Panna mine, India’s only other hard rock diamond mine,” the filing said.