Copper & Diamonds

Copper & Diamonds

Copper: pioneering progress / 03:13


Copper is said to be the oldest metal in the world, discovered around 8,000 BC. It is believed that forging technology was discovered around 6,000 BC, and that's when its practical use began. In Japan, the use of copper began around 300 BC (the Yayoi era).

Copper is characterised by excellent corrosion resistance, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and its rich colour. It’s malleable and used in a variety of alloys. Copper is one of the most widely used basic materials, next only to iron and aluminium. More than 22 million tonnes are consumed worldwide annually and Japan is the world's fourth largest copper-consuming country.

Rio Tinto owns interests in the Kennecott mine and smelter complex in the US, which has more than 110 years of history; the world's largest copper mine, Escondida (Chile); the Grasberg copper mine (Indonesia); and Oyu Tolgoi copper mine (Mongolia). Oyu Tolgoi is the largest foreign investment in Mongolia and produces a stable supply of copper concentrate, copper ingot, molybdenum, refined gold and refined silver. In addition to these operating mines, we are progressing two projects, La Granja (Peru) and Resolution (US), to respond to the global demand for copper, which is expected to grow steadily in the future.


Diamonds are a beautiful gift of nature, formed deep within the earth’s surface more than a billion years ago, as tremendous heat and pressure transformed carbon crystals into diamond. Diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth, and comes from the ancient Greek word “adamas”, meaning unbreakable or indestructible. Rare and precious, 250 tonnes of diamond-bearing ore needs to be mined to get just one carat (0.2 grams) of diamond.

Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest producers of rough diamonds, and the largest producer of natural coloured diamonds, mined to the highest possible health, safety and environmental standards. Our diamonds come from our two underground mines, the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia, and the Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, Canada.

Rio Tinto produces the full spectrum of diamonds in terms of qualities, sizes and colours, and all the diamonds we produce are destined for the fine jewellery market.

Argyle Pink Diamonds

Rio Tinto owns and operates the Argyle Diamond Mine in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The mine has been operating since 1983 and has produced more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds. It is the world's largest supplier of natural coloured diamonds and produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rare pink diamonds.

Less than one-tenth of one per cent (0.01 per cent) of the Argyle Diamond Mine production is in the pink or violet colour family. We cut and polish our pink diamonds at our dedicated polishing facility at Argyle Pink Diamonds headquarters in Perth, Australia.

Pink, red and blue diamonds from the iconic Argyle Pink Diamonds tender

The very best pink diamonds are chosen for our annual Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. Approximately 150 select clients around the world are invited to view and bid on these extraordinary diamonds. The market for pink diamonds is quite separate to white diamonds, and due to their rarity, pink diamonds typically command prices far in excess of white diamonds.

Find out more about our Copper & Diamonds business