Published On: Tue, Mar 14th, 2017

Toronto’s Paragon International on Impact of Argyle Mine’s Unclear Future

The global mining giant, Rio Tinto, which owns and operates the Argyle diamond mine in western Australia’s East Kimberley region, has reported a striking drop in the mine’s resources at the end of 2016 and recently announced it is reviewing its previous plans to expand the mine.

Wealth management specialists say this will have a drastic impact on the value of Argyle diamonds moving forward.    

Rio Tinto recently released an updated reserves and resources statement for the Argyle mine, a statement that described a drop in mine production by two-thirds, from 44 million tonnes of ore at the end of 2015 to 15 million tonnes at the end of 2016.

The Argyle mine is considered to be extremely valuable to the diamond market. It’s been in operation since 1983 and has produced more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds. It’s also one of the world’s largest sources of diamonds and largest sources of natural colored diamonds, including the coveted Pink Argyle diamond.

Argyle diamond mine, Western Australia 2007 photo/ Brian W. Schaller

Pink Argyle diamonds make up less than one per cent of the diamonds produced from the Argyle mine, a rareness that has steadily attracted the attention of collectors and investors around the globe.

According to Paragon International Wealth Management, a colored diamond investment advisory firm based out of Toronto, Ontario, there is an increasing demand for fancy colored diamonds, and pink diamonds in particular.

Toronto’s Paragon International has over 75 years of combined experience in the diamond investment industry and sees an increasing number of investors looking to include hard assets in their investment portfolios — fancy colored diamonds often being the hard asset of choice.

Diamonds have been called the world’s most portable form of wealth. They are considered to be recession proof and have increased in value every year since the 1970s. According to Paragon International, pink colored diamonds in particular are an investment vehicle unlike any other.

In 2005, Rio Tinto had authorized a $803 million plan to expand the Argyle mine by opening a second stage of the underground block cave.  However, while releasing the company’s 2016 annual report in early February, Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, confirmed that the plans to extend mining operations were currently being reviewed.

“I can’t make any comment on any extension of the block cave at this point in time because everything is under review,” commented Jacques.

For the past 32 years, Rio Tinto has held an annual invitation-only tender event, known as the Pink Diamonds Tender, where its finest pink diamonds from a year’s production are on display. The 2016 tender event delivered record results, reaffirming a growing global interest in pink diamonds.

Over the past 15 years, the value of the Pink Argyle diamonds sold at the tender have appreciated over 300 per cent, and in 2016, the tender received the highest average price per carat since the event’s conception in 1984.

Paragon International Wealth Management says that as the Argyle mine’s expiry grows closer, global demand will continue to increase. The company predicts seeing the value of Pink Argyle diamonds increase tenfold by 2018.

Author: Tom Ballard

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