157.4 carat diamond unearthed at Arctic diamond mine in Canada

On Wednesday, Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. announced the recovery of a 157.4 carat diamond at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in the Northwest Territories (Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.)
A Canadian mining company says it has unearthed a “157.4 carat gem of exceptional quality” at a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.

It is the largest “gem quality” diamond recovered to date from the Gahcho Kué mine and will be offered for sale during the first quarter of 2021, Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. announced Wednesday in a press release reporting its fourth quarter diamond sales.

The company said it sold 956,348 carats in the fourth quarter raising $80.2 million ($61.7 million US).

“The diamond industry has faced immense challenges during 2020 so to end the year with such a strong sales performance is very encouraging,” said Mountain Province president and CEO Stuart Brown in a statement.

“Rough diamond prices, in the larger and better-qualities have been exceptional and pleasingly we saw further improvement in the smaller and lower quality diamonds which we believe will continue to strengthen in 2021.”

The recovery of the largest ever diamond and the successful bid was certainly a boost to the company morale, he added.

“It shows that the mine, although a high-volume producer of predominantly smaller diamonds, does produce diamonds of exceptional size and quality,” Brown said.

Mountain Province Diamonds owns a 49 per cent share of the Gahcho Kué diamond mine located about 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. Diamond giant De Beers Group owns the rest of the mine.

The largest diamond found so far in the Canadian Arctic was discovered at the Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories in December of 2018.

The 552.74-carat yellow diamond was billed by Dominion Diamonds as the largest diamond ever found in North America.

The rough stone measured 33.74 millimeters by 54.56 millimeters, according to Dominion Diamonds.

A few quick facts about Canada’s diamond industry
An aerial view of the Ekati mine, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. (Dominion Diamond Corporation)

Canada is a relative newcomer to diamond mining. De Beers, the world’s leading diamond company, started prospecting for diamonds in Canada in the early 1960s. In 1987, a second year geology student Brad Wood who was working for De Beers stumbled upon kimberlite rocks, volcanic rocks that sometimes contain diamonds, while fishing on Attawapiskat River, in the James Bay lowlands of Northern Ontario. The site would eventually become today’s Victor Mine.

But it wasn’t until 1991, when two enterprising geologists, Stewart Blusson and Chuck Fipke, discovered large diamond deposits in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories that the word learned of Canada’s Arctic diamonds.

Diamond production at the Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton’s EKATI Mine in the Lac de Gras region, about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, started in 1998 (Fipke and Blusson, each held a 10 per cent share in the EKATI Mine). In 2003, Rio Tinto, another giant British-Australian mining and metals company, opened its Diavik Mine not far from EKATI.

The Jericho Diamond Mine, the third diamond mine in Canada and the first in Nunavut territory, operated from 2006 to 2008 by Tahera Diamond Corporation, but was sold in 2010 to Shear Minerals, Ltd.

In 2008, De Beers opened its first Canadian mine at Snap Lake about 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Ontario joined Canada’s diamond club in 2008, when De Beers started commercial diamond production at its Victor mine, about 90 kilometres west of the First Nations community of Attawapiskat, in northern Ontario.

Gahcho Kué is estimated to be one of the 10 biggest diamond mines in the world. It became Canada’s sixth diamond mine.

Open pit diamond mine operations at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in the N.W.T. (De Beers)

Renard Mine, owned by the Stornoway Diamond Corporation, is the seventh diamond mine to open in Canada and the first to open in Quebec. It is located in the James Bay region of northern Quebec, about 1,000 kilometres north of Montreal. Commercial production at the mine began in 2017.

However, the success of diamond mining in Canada is by no means guaranteed. De Beers closed its Snap Lake mine in late 2015 because of operational problems after spending more than $2.2 billion on it. Tahera Diamond Corp was forced to shutter the Jericho mine in 2008 because of budgetary and mining issues.

According to the federal government statistics, Canada is the world’s third-largest diamond producer, by value of rough stones, behind Botswana and Russia. In 2018, it accounted for 14.4 per cent of the global diamond production by value and 15.7 per cent by volume.

Canada’s total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.9 billion in 2018.

Links to Eye on the Arctic’s special series on diamond mining in the Northwest Territories:

Diamonds fuel the Northwest Territories’ economy

Dreams made of diamonds

Canada’s ice road to diamonds

Diamonds – the darker side of prosperity

Social ills keep many on the sidelines of NWT’s diamond boom

Smaller communities still suffer from high unemployment

Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Armenia, Levon started his journalistic career in 1990, covering wars and civil strife in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 1992, after the government in Armenia shut down the TV program he was working for, Levon immigrated to Canada. He learned English and eventually went back to journalism, working first in print and then in broadcasting. Levon’s journalistic assignments have taken him from the High Arctic to Sahara and the killing fields of Darfur, from the streets of Montreal to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He says, “But best of all, I’ve been privileged to tell the stories of hundreds of people who’ve generously opened up their homes, refugee tents and their hearts to me.”

2 thoughts on “157.4 carat diamond unearthed at Arctic diamond mine in Canada

  • Friday, December 18, 2020 at 13:24
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    This is a very informative article on large Canadian diamonds. You may also wish to mention the 800 carat Nipissing Diamond found on the surface near Cobalt, ON, in about 1904. RJK Exploration is exploring several kimberlite pipes in the vicinity of the Nipissing discovery, and initial sample analyses of the drilled kimberlite are reported to have “…indicator mineral chemistry that appears (to analysist Dr. Charles Fipke) to be similar to that found at the Letšeng diamond mine in Lesotho, Africa, the host to large diamonds.”

    Reply
  • Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 11:21
    Permalink

    Mother Nature gives us life and wealth.
    Ment for all shard by few. It’s only man that puts a price on everything!!!! When given free by Nature.

    Reply
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