Feb 07, 2017

Rio Tinto Gifts Bunder Project to Madya Pradesh Government

In a unique -- one might even say unprecedented – move, Rio Tinto has gifted its Bunder diamond project in India to the Government of Madhya Pradesh, the state in which it is located. The Company said it had taken the decision after a “comprehensive review”.

Earlier, in  August 2016, Rio Tinto had announced it would not be proceeding  with the further development of Bunder “due to commercial considerations”. At the time Rio had indicated that it would  look  to closing down all project infrastructure.

The  Company announced today that “Under a Government of Madhya Pradesh order signed in January 2017, the Government will accept ownership and take on responsibility for the Bunder assets.”

Further, Rio clarified, “The inventory of assets and associated infrastructure handed over to the Government comprises all land, plant, equipment and vehicles at the Bunder project site. The inventory will also include diamond samples recovered during exploration. This approach will assist the Government to package the assets if it were to proceed with an auction process for the Bunder mineral rights.”

Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive Arnaud Soirat said, “Our exit from Bunder is the latest example of Rio Tinto streamlining its asset portfolio. It simplifies our business, allowing us to focus on our world-class assets. We believe in the value and quality of the Bunder project and support its future development, and the best way to achieve that is to hand over the assets to the Government of Madhya Pradesh.”

Citing the “long and enduring ties” with India, Soirat  said that Rio  continued to see the nation as an important market for its metals and minerals and as a key hub for Rio Tinto’s business services.  He added that with more than 250,000 diamond cutters and polishers employed in processing Rio Tinto diamonds, the Company also “continues to enjoy a strong partnership with the Indian diamond industry”.