Bunder project’s education initiatives deliver strong results

riotinto diamonds22 July 2014
Rio Tinto’s Bunder project in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is delighted to announce the results of a number of educational initiatives aimed at improving opportunities for families in the 15 communities surrounding the diamond project.

Through a range of coaching initiatives and adult education programs the Bunder project is working towards its goal of enhancing opportunities in the local region and ensuring that the local communities are well placed to take up employment in the developing diamond mine.

The Bunder project’s high school coaching program comprises eight teachers managing five coaching centres for secondary school students. Over the past four years the Bunder project has reached 381 students with an 85 per cent pass rate.

The coaching centres provide an important resource to students at risk of dropping out of school because of lack of resources or because of the long distances to travel to a school. Girls, who traditionally have not been encouraged to complete high school, have been a particular focus of the project.

Tarun Malkani, Chief operating office for Rio Tinto India said, “In an area of India where literacy rates are very low, these are milestone achievements for students who can now look to a much broader range of employment options. We will continue to work in close consultation with the communities to develop programs’ that will make a real difference.”

In addition to expanding the coaching centres a key focus for the Bunder project over the next two years will be providing students with support for entrance tests together with a workforce education and training plan.

Adult literacy programmes along with professional and industrial training will be features of the Bunder training plan aimed at ensuring the local community can take advantage of the many business and employment opportunities that the Bunder mine will provide throughout its life. It will also equip them for other employment opportunities within and beyond the Madhya Pradesh region.

About the Bunder diamond project

The Bunder diamond project was discovered in 2004 by Rio Tinto and in 2010 a State Support Agreement was signed with Government of Madhya Pradesh as an endorsement of the mutual commitment to the development of the project. An Inferred Resource (the first quantifiable estimate of an ore-body) has been defined as 37 million tonnes, containing 27.4 million carats. The Government of Madhya Pradesh gave in principle approval to the issue of a mining lease for the Bunder project via a “Letter of Intent” in January 2012. Rio Tinto is now working on the mine plan, environmental and forestry approvals required to execute a Mining Lease. At least rupees 2200 crore (US$500M) will be required to fully develop the Bunder diamond project. Once developed the Bunder diamond mine is expected to place Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world. www.riotintoindia.com

About Rio Tinto Diamonds

Rio Tinto is one of the world’s major diamond producers through its 100 per cent control of the Argyle mine in Australia, 60 per cent of the Diavik mine in Canada, a 78 per cent interest in the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe. These three mines allow Rio Tinto to produce diamonds for all market segments. Rio Tinto also has an advanced diamond project in India. Rio Tinto’s share of the production from its three operating mines is sold through its Diamonds Sales and Marketing office in Antwerp, Belgium with representative offices in Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York. Rio Tinto Diamonds is a leading supporter of the Kimberley Process as well as a founding member of Responsible Jewellery Council.