BRC DiamondCore and mining giant Rio Tinto have entered into a joint venture to explore for diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, miningweekly.com reports.
Under the terms of the agreement, Rio Tinto will fund the exploration at the DRC North diamond project up to the stage of and including a feasibility study, and would gain a 70% interest in the project.
BRC DiamondCore President Mike de Wit said that the company had indications that diamonds, which were "very prevalent" in this part of Africa, were present in the DRC North project area. De Wit noted that local small miners had focused on retrieving diamonds from alluvial deposits rather than seeking kimberlites.
BRC has undergone a difficult period. Sampling work on 44 diamond exploration permits was suspended until January 20 of this year, and it closed its South Africa operations.
The DRC is one of the world's largest diamond producing nations. In 2009, a year still affected by the global financial crisis, the country produced 21.3 million carats of rough diamonds with a combined value of $225.8 million. The DRC is also heading the Kimberley Process for 2011.