$60 billion in diamonds produced in Russia in 50 years - minister

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MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti) - In the 50 years since diamond production started in Russia, $60 billion worth of stones have been produced, the finance minister said Thursday.

Speaking at a ceremony dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Russian mining industry, Alexei Kudrin said the diamonds had played a great role in re-equipping Russian industry, developing the country and strengthening its defenses.

"Today, the activities and interests of [diamond monopolist] Alrosa spread far beyond the Sakha Republic [Russia's largest diamond-mining region in Eastern Siberia]," he said. "Alrosa is gaining confidence on the world market. It has turned into a modern international company and is ready for further diversification."

"The company should not only continue to expand geographically but also use its potential in related mining industries and energy projects," the minister added. "Alrosa should also tackle state problems."

Alrosa is one of the world's largest diamond producers, providing about 20% of its diamonds.

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