Rio Tinto today released the first sustainable development report for its most advanced diamond project, the Bunder project, in Madhya Pradesh.
From the time of discovery in 2004, the Bunder project has been proactive in setting a new benchmark for mine development in India. With commercial diamond production planned to commence around 2016, the Bunder project will have spent some 12 years working with local communities to determine how the developing project can improve economic opportunities and quality of life in this region of India.
Dr Nik Senapati, Managing director of Rio Tinto in India, said, “As the sustainable development report shows, the Madhya Pradesh region in India presents many challenges but also enormous scope for positive change. Already our initiatives in the areas of education, training, employment, health and sustainable agricultural practices are starting to make an impact.”
Social and community development work has been undertaken at a range of levels and across a range of issues, initially focusing on the needs of women and children in the communities surrounding the Bunder project. The significant work Rio Tinto is undertaking to build social capacity attracted the 2010-2011 Sitaram Rungta Social Awareness Award, conferred by the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI).
Mr Tarun Malkani, Chief operating officer, India for Rio Tinto's diamonds business commented, “Our experience across all our diamond operations has been to provide a legacy of stronger, healthier and environmentally secure communities and Bunder would be no different. We recognise that significant obligations are attached to accessing land for mining purposes.”
The Bunder project currently employs around 420 people, of which some 80% are from Madhya Pradesh. This figure will likely double during the construction phase. Over time hundreds of other jobs will be required to provide the necessary goods and services to support a mine, with additional job creation in India’s diamond processing industries.