It is matter of only a few years from now. Rio Tinto, the Australian mining giant is all set to commence its diamond production on commercial basis from its ambitious Bunder Project (Madhya Pradesh) in India from 2016.
The Company has recently released the first sustainable development report for the project, supposed to be the most advanced in technology. Bunder will be India's second diamond mine after Bundelkhand. From the time of discovery in 2004, the Bunder project might have spent some 12 years working with local authorities and communities to establish how the growing project can enhance economic opportunities and quality of life in surrounding vicinity of the region India.
Rio Tinto has now finally received a Letter of Intent-a commitment from the Madhya Pradesh government that once clearances come through from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the Company would be able to commence its diamond production on commercial basis.
Managing Director (MD) of Rio Tinto in India, Dr. Nik Senapati says, “As the sustainable development report shows, the state of Madhya Pradesh throws many challenges but there is also enormous scope for a positive change. Our initiatives are already active in the areas of education, training, employment, health and sustainable agricultural practices are starting to make an impact.”
The company has already undertaken social and community development works which initially focus on welfare of women and children in the communities in the vicinity of Bunder project. Another most significant work the Company is the undertaking to build social capacity has attracted the 2010-2011 Sitaram Rungta Social Awareness Award which was conferred by the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI).
The prime significance of Rio Tinto's investment in a diamond mine in Madhya Pradesh is that it will provide multiple and varied socio economic opportunities for the local communities.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), India for Rio Tinto's Diamonds Business Mr. Tarun Malkani says, “Our experience across all our diamond operations has been to provide a legacy of stronger, healthier and environmentally secure communities and Bunder would be no different. We recognize that significant obligations are attached to accessing land for mining purposes.”
Rio Tinto has a dedicated and vigilant Community Relations team which works at the Bunder diamond project. The team works in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations to deliver outcomes for local communities which the Company cannot achieve alone, keeping in view some of the significant challenges faced by local people such as nutrition, healthcare and literacy.
Bunder Project, the name of which is inspired by the monkeys of the local area, would be one of the four new diamond mines likely to come up globally in the next 10 years. According to the information provided by the Company, the project employs around 420 people at present, out of which about 80% are coming from Madhya Pradesh. This figure is likely to be doubled during the construction phase of the project. In the long run, hundreds of other vacancies would be created to provide the required goods and services to support a mine, with additional creation of jobs in India’s diamond processing industries.
Rio Tinto has been grooming the area for over two decades now. Data gathered by the company indicates a field of eight kimberlitic rock pipes named Saptarishi (a cluster of seven stars) is capable of producing 27.4 million carats of diamonds. This would certainly add more glitters to India’s diamond industry when the project becomes fully operational in 2016.
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