Rio cuts up to 40 from Argyle

Rio cuts up to 40 from Argyle

Rio Tinto has again swung the axe at the Argyle diamond mine, cutting as many as 30 to 40 positions from the Kimberly operation only weeks after sharply downgrading production expectations for the mine.

A spokeswoman for Rio Tinto confirmed Argyle had cut positions last week, but could not comment on the number of positions deemed redundant.

"Like others in the mining industry, the Argyle Diamond Mine is focused on reducing costs and streamlining its operations. Argyle has decided to reduce some support roles in the business as part of its ongoing work to ensure it has a competitive strategy and a sustainable cost base," she said.

Last month Rio cut production guidance for Argyle by 6.25 per cent for 2014, due to ongoing problems with its crushing operations at the now-underground mine. Rio said its diamond division, which includes Argyle and Canada's Diavik mine, would produce 15 million carats of diamonds this year, rather than the 16 million expected, due to a "maintenance shutdown at Argyle to implement some improved design modifications to both underground crushers".

The second crusher at Argyle was commissioned in July, but it is understood the engineering issue affects both machines.

Rio Tinto has said it expects its Argyle underground expansion to reach full capacity next year.

Rio shares closed down 73¢, or 1.2 per cent, to $60.51.