Both mining giants BHP and RTZ are happy with the results from their Canadian diamond mines, press reports say.
Last quarter, BHP made 56 cents of profit from every $1 of sales from its mine Ekati. The company recently rejected two offers from Israeli company DGI to buy the mine, which has been valued at $1.1 billion.
Instead, BHP may expand Ekati. It is considering spending $145 million to develop an underground mine that would produce 3,200 metric tons of ore a day after it starts producing in 2005.
The company is also looking for more diamond finds. BHP Billiton spends the largest part of its mineral exploration budget on diamonds, including $22 million spent looking for gems in Canada.
Rio Tinto, which owns both Diavik and Argyle in Australia, saw its net earnings from diamonds in 2003 surge 79% to $113 million, from 63% in 2002. It, too, says it is likely to add underground mines to Diavik when the copen pits are complete.