MOSCOW, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Russia’s Alrosa said on Wednesday it had begun production at its new Verkhne-Munskoye diamond field in eastern Siberia, which President Vladimir Putin said would reinforce the state-controlled firm’s position as a world leader.
Alrosa, which is already the largest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms, competes with Anglo American’s De Beers, the biggest seller of rough diamonds by value. Together, they produce a half of the world’s rough diamonds.
“The launch of this field will certainly reinforce the positions of Alrosa… as an international leader. It currently accounts for 27 percent of global diamond production,” President Vladimir Putin, who took part in the start-up ceremony via video link, was quoted as saying in the Kremlin statement.
The new deposit will partially replace suspended output at Alrosa’s underground Mir mine, which was flooded when water seeped in from an open-pit mine above it in 2017.
“Thanks in no small part to this project, Alrosa will be able to increase its production next year,” Sergey Ivanov, Alrosa chief executive, said in a statement.