The Argyle Diamond Mine is a diamond mine located in the East Kimberley region in the remote north of Western Australia. Argyle was at times the largest diamond producer in the world by volume (14 million carats in 2018), although the proportion of gem-quality diamonds was low. It is the only known significant source of pink and red diamonds (producing over 90% of the world’s supply), and additionally provided a large proportion of other naturally coloured diamonds, including champagne, cognac and rare blue diamonds.
Mining operations ceased in November 2020, with mine operator Rio Tinto planning to decommission the mine and rehabilitate the site at least through 2025.
The Argyle diamond mine is also notable for being the first successful commercial diamond mine exploiting a volcanic pipe of lamproite, rather than the more usual kimberlite pipe; much earlier attempts to mine diamonds from a lamproite pipe in Arkansas, United States, were commercially unsuccessful. The Argyle mine is owned by the Rio Tinto Group, a diversified mining company which also owns the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada and the Murowa diamond mine in Zimbabwe.
The mine site covers about 50 ha (124 acres),: stretching in a mostly linear shape about 1,600 m (5,200 ft) long and 150 to 600 m (490 to 1,970 ft) wide. Argyle originally used open-pit techniques, reaching about 600 m deep at its deepest point. The open cut closed in 2010, and operations became fully underground in 2013 via block cave mining.
The Argyle diamond mine is located in the Kimberleyregion in the far northeast of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is located to the south-west of Lake Argyle in the Matsu Ranges, about 550 km (340 mi) south-west of Darwin. Because it is 185 km (115 mi) by road from the nearest settlement (Kununurra), a complete residential camp has been constructed on site. Most of the 520 workers commute from Perth, over 2,000 km (1,200 mi) away, for alternating two-week shifts at the mine. The mine has encouraged local employment and has a large number of indigenous local people working within the mine.