Mining major Rio Tinto has announced the final day of mining activities at its Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia (WA).

The mine was in operation for a period of 37 years.

Rio Tinto copper and diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said: “Fifty years ago there were very few people who believed there were diamonds in Australia – even fewer could have foreseen how the Argyle story would unfold. To arrive at this final chapter has required vision, courage and determination to overcome significant challenges to enter new territory in diamond exploration, mining and marketing.

“Today Argyle’s influence stretches into many spheres and over many continents and I am very proud to acknowledge all those people who have contributed to the discovery and development of the mine and the production of some of the finest diamonds the world has ever seen.”

Since it began production in 1983, Argyle has produced over 825 million carats of rough diamonds.

Argyle mine general manager Andrew Wilson said: “This is an historic day for the Argyle mine and the east Kimberley region and a great source of pride for this unique Australian success story.

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“A new chapter will now begin as we start the process of respectfully closing the Argyle mine and rehabilitating the land, to be handed back to its traditional custodians.”

Rio Tinto noted that the mine closure process is expected to take about five years to decommission and dismantle the mine as well as undertake rehabilitation.

In January, Rio Tinto extended its contract with quality life services provider Sodexo at the Argyle diamond mine.