Rio Tinto Group has announced its plans to invest $500m in a diamond project in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
CEO Sam Walsh approached India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to develop the diamond discovery and is waiting for the approvals.
Over the past six months, Walsh is said to have spoken with Modi three times on the planned Bunder diamond mine.
Talks are said to have focused on the prospects of uranium exports to the country, as well as coal mining opportunities.
Walsh told Bloomberg: "We’re waiting for approvals, forestry and environment approvals, which I am hopeful will come through in the near-term."
Located in Madhya Pradesh, about 500km south-east of New Delhi, Rio Tinto’s Bunder project is expected to make India a major diamond producer.
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Rio Tinto is in the process of obtaining approvals to bring the mine into production as early as in 2019.
According to the company, the project may be one of only four new mines to enter production in the next decade.
Discovered in 2004, the Bunder project is Rio Tinto’s most advanced diamond mining project and is currently at the pre-feasibility stage.
With its investment in a diamond mine in Madhya Pradesh, the company aims to provide significant socio-economic opportunities for local communities.
Walsh also discussed his plans to establish an iron ore project in Odisha, which Rio Tinto holds 51% ownership of.
Image: Rio Tinto diamond exploration in Madhya Pradesh. Photo: © Rio Tinto 2014.