02 May 2012

Diavik underground mine surpasses one million tonnes

Yellowknife, Canada, May 2, 2012 - Rio Tinto, operator and 60% owner of the Diavik Diamond Mine, has achieved an important milestone in its transition to underground mining in the remote Northwest Territories of Canada.

The milestone of one million tonnes of ore produced from underground mining in sub-arctic conditions was achieved on April 23rd and demonstrates the successful future that awaits Diavik as a fully fledged underground mine, Diavik President and Chief Operating Officer Niels Kristensen said.

 "These are exciting times at Diavik and this is an accomplishment shared by our workforce and partners. Most importantly, we can celebrate reaching this milestone in a manner that has always put safety first."

Production from Diavik's underground mine commenced in early 2010 in parallel with open pit operations. The transition to a fully underground operation will be complete in 2012 and will sustain Diavik production well past 2020.

To prepare for underground mining at Diavik several years of design and engineering feasibility work were conducted and over C$800 million of funding was required from Rio Tinto and its 40% joint venture partner in Diavik, Harry Winston. This investment and transition to underground mining demonstrates both joint venture partners' confidence in Diavik's future as a significant supplier of high end white diamonds.

According to Niels Kristensen, "The diamonds unearthed at Diavik are amongst the best white gem diamonds produced in the world today. We have seen and continue to see, strong demand for Diavik diamonds in both established and emerging markets."

For further information contact:
Doug Ashbury
Adviser Communications
Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.
Tel: + 1 (867) 669-6525

About The Diavik Diamond Mine
The Diavik Diamond Mine, located 300 km. northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is an unincorporated joint venture between Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (60%) and Harry Winston Diamond Limited Partnership (40%). Both companies are headquartered in Yellowknife, Canada. The Diavik Diamond Mine, a Canada's Top 100 Employer, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc of London, England, and Harry Winston Diamond Limited Partnership is wholly owned by Harry Winston Diamond Corporation of Toronto, Canada.

Web site: www.diavik.ca

About Rio Tinto Diamonds
Rio Tinto is one of the world's major diamond producers through its 100 per cent control of the Argyle mine in Australia, 60 per cent of the Diavik mine in Canada, a 78 per cent interest in the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe. These three mines allow Rio Tinto to produce diamonds for all market segments.  Rio Tinto also has an advanced diamond project in India. Rio Tinto's share of the production from its three operating mines is sold through its Diamonds Sales and Marketing headquarters office in Antwerp, Belgium with representative offices in Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York.  Rio Tinto Diamonds is a leading supporter of the Kimberley Process as well as a founding member of Responsible Jewellery Council.

Web site: www.riotintodiamonds.com

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