Rio Tinto boss JS Jacques not worried about trade war; not with pink diamonds on his mind
If the escalating trade war between the US and China is playing on the mind of Rio Tinto’s boss, then he wasn’t showing it as he picked his favourite stone from a dazzling display of the company’s latest offering of million-dollar pink diamonds.
The US escalated the trade war this week, announcing plans to slap tariffs on another $US200 billion of Chinese imports, which sparked condemnation and more threats of retaliation from China.
“At this point in time we have no direct impact from any trade wars, I’ll be watching it very carefully,” Rio Tinto’s boss JS Jacques told ABC’s The Business, when asked about the tit-for-tat tariffs.
The CEO said he has been busy flying back and forth between Washington and Beijing hoping to ensure the interests of the mining giant trump politics.
“Could they listen more? For sure that is always the case — but we’ve put our case in the best possible way.”
The self-confessed “optimist” also cautioned against taking the very public war of words between the US and China too seriously.
“I think it is very important to see what is said publicly and the actions on the ground, because you can see clearly if we reflect on the past two years, there’s lots of differences between what is said and what has been acted,” he said.
Pressure on for diamond discovery
The largest vivid pink diamond yet, the Argyle Alpha, weighs in at a rather large 3.14 carats. (Supplied)
The interview took place in the glow Rio Tinto’s finest diamonds on offer this year, which includes the largest vivid pink diamond yet called the Argyle Alpha — which weighs in at a rather large 3.14 carats — and is Mr Jacques’s pick.
The collection of 63 rare pink, red and violet diamonds from the mine are part of the 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds tender, which is going on tour before bidding closes on October 10.
Prices are expected to be stratospheric, thanks to the impending closure of the Argyle mine in 2020.
The impending mine closure and the fact that Rio Tinto has until now struggled to find a new seam, have seen prices jump in double-digit percentages every year for the past few years.
About a quarter of Argyle’s pink diamonds are snapped up by Australian buyers.
While finding a new mine “is an absolute priority” for the firm’s geologist, according to Mr Jacques, he was tight-lipped on how close they were or even whether it will be in Australia or not.
Rio Tinto’s diamond business is under extreme pressure to come up with new supplies, with the Argyle set to close within two years and its other Diavik mine in Canada set to shut by 2025.
“What is very important for us is to find a new Argyle, it will take some time, I have high expectations, I’m putting the exploration team under massive pressure — trust me on this one,” he said.
Those who are forking out huge prices for the rare gems will be hoping Mr Jacques’s exploration team will be unsuccessful.