Rio Tinto will restart its expansion project at the Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in 2010, Bloomberg reports.

Expansion work was slowed in January as jewellery demand dropped.

Argyle chief operating officer Kevin McLeish told Bloomberg that underground production at the mine should begin in 2013, two years later than originally planned.

McLeish said that hiring for the expansion will begin in the second half of 2010.

Argyle mine output in the June quarter dropped 86%, compared to last year, to 408,000 carats due to closure of processing facilities from January to June.

McLeish told Bloomberg that the mine was now running at full capacity of eight million tons per annum.