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Dec. 2002

Both De Beers, and a joint venture by BHP Billiton and Dwyka Diamonds of Australia are on the hunt of diamond rough within India.

Several international mining companies (including Ashton and Rio Tinto) have also expressed interest in diamond mining in India after gold and diamond reserves were found there during a 1993 survey.

De Beers has been granted permission by the government to conduct an aerial survey over 10,000 square kilometers of diamond deposits. The survey will be followed by prospecting and mining. According to the agreement, De Beers will undertake a survey over 5,000 square kilometers in the first year, after which the remaining areas will be released.

The BHP Billiton and Dwyka Diamonds of Australia team, meanwhile, has set off to explore approximately 34,000 square miles of prospective diamond fields in India.

The first area in their sights contains kimberlite pipes already shown to contain microdiamonds. BHP will provide 15 percent of exploration costs and can earn a 51 percent stake in any mining project. If BHP exercises that option, it will fund 100 percent of the project through completion of a feasibility study. Rosy Blue, the Antwerp diamond trader and manufacturer, also is investing in Dwyka.

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