British mining giant Rio Tinto has handed over the ownership of the abandoned Bunder diamond project in India to the Madhya Pradesh (MP) state government.

Owing to commercial considerations, Rio Tinto had given up on the development of the diamond project in August 2016. The company is now looking to shut down the infrastructure related to the project.

Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said that the company’s exit from the Indian diamond project is an example of its optimization of asset portfolio besides simplifying the business to focus on its world-class assets.

 Soirat added: “We believe in the value and quality of the Bunder project and support its future development, and the best way to achieve that is to hand over the assets to the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

“Rio Tinto has long and enduring ties with India and we continue to see the nation as an important market for our metals and minerals and as a key hub for Rio Tinto’s business services.”

An order signed by the MP government last month makes it accept ownership and responsibility for the assets of the Bunder diamond project which include land, facility, vehicles and equipment at the site.

The MP government will also possess diamond samples discovered during exploration of the mining site.

Rio Tinto stated that the approach will help the MP government to put the assets together in case of a future auction process for the mineral rights at the Bunder project site.

It further stated that that it continues to stay committed to its diamonds business as well as the diamond industry via its Australia located Argyle diamond mine and the Canada located Diavik diamond mine.