London - BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL]
the world's biggest miner, is considering selling all or part of its diamond assets, including its stakes in the EKATI mine and the Chidliak exploration project in Canada.
BHP said on Tuesday it was considering whether a continued presence in the diamond industry was consistent with its strategy of investing in large, long-life and expandable assets.
"EKATI is a world class operation and Chidliak is a promising exploration opportunity, but many years of extensive exploration suggest there are few options to develop new diamond mines that are consistent with this approach," the miner said.
The review of the diamonds portfolio is due to be completed by the end of January 2012.
BHP has an 80% stake in EKATI, which has produced an average of over 3 million carats of rough diamonds per year over the last three years, with annual sales representing about 10% of global diamond supply by value.
It owns a 51% stake in Chidliak, a venture with Peregrine Diamonds, operated by Peregrine.