The Rio Tinto group has gifted its Bunder diamond mine to the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh where the project is located, ABC News reported.
Rio Tinto halted work at the mine in 2016 to cut costs and conserve cash.Development of the mine would have cost the company around $330 million.
The Madhya Pradesh government will now be able to package the mine and equipment if it decides to auction the mineral rights.
“Our exit from Bunder is the latest example of Rio Tinto streamlining its asset portfolio. It simplifies our business, allowing us to focus on our world-class assets,” Arnaud Soirat, Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds chief executive, said in the statement.“Rio Tinto has long and enduring ties with India and we continue to see the nation as an important market for our metals and minerals and as a key hub for Rio Tinto's business services,” he said.
The company said the Madhya Pradesh government signed an order in January accepting ownership of the mine and taking responsibility for its assets.
Australia-based Rio Tinto discovered the diamond deposits in 2004 and signed an agreement to develop the mine in 2010.
Rio Tinto has strong ties with the Indian diamond industry. It says it employs more than 250,000 Indian diamond cutters and polishers for processing its diamonds.