Introducing the Argyle Mine
Over 90% of the world’s annual natural pink diamond supply was mined from one single source: Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Western Australia. The mine had been in operation since the early 1980’s, and completely ceased all mining operations in November 2020 due to exhausted supply.
In anticipation and in the wake of this closure, investors buying pink diamonds are seeing an average appreciation of between 10-15% on their diamond portfolios each year.
The Argyle Mine: Why has it closed?
In the world of diamonds and precious gemstones, the Argyle mine has assumed a brand of its own. In addition to being the fourth largest diamond mine in the world by volume, the mine had been the largest and most significant source of rare pink diamonds, producing 90% of the world’s supply. While occasional pink diamonds can be found in other mines, (in Brazil, Russia and India for example), the Argyle mine was unmatched in the sheer quantity and quality of the pink diamonds it has produced over the years.
Within the Argyle mine itself, pink diamonds were also incredibly rare, representing less than 1% of the total diamonds mined, as the table below highlights.
|Est. Production %||72%||27%||< 1%|
|Est. Production Volume (carats)||9.4 million||3.5 million||< 0.1 million|
As with all diamond mines, the Argyle diamond mine had a limited lifespan, after which it was no longer economically viable to continue mining. In November 2020 Rio Tinto announced that the mine had ceased all mining operations.
The closure is a major milestone and its significance has not been lost on the diamond community or savvy investors with a preference for hard assets. There have been no recent discoveries of viable mining opportunities to replace this unique mine, and curtailed exploration since the 2008 financial crisis.
If a new mine was discovered in the near future, it would still take a minimum 10-15 years to reach the actual stage of producing diamonds to sell to consumers.
Like all assets, the diamond market follows the laws of supply and demand. As such, when Argyle closed, the supply of pink diamonds became even more limited. This closure positions the pink diamond as an investment opportunity offering significant capital gains in the medium to long term.