The Gahcho Kue diamond mine – one of the largest new mines in the world – has officially opened in Canada’s North West Territories.
The open-pit mine is located near the Arctic Circle, 280 km northeast of the province’s capital Yellowknife.
De Beers officially opened it, with chief executive Bruce Cleaver telling AFP, “It’s the largest diamond mine brought into production in the last 13 years and it’s the biggest outside South Africa.”
The company owns a 51 per cent of the joint venture, with the remainder owned by Canada’s Mountain Province Diamonds.
Its name comes from the local indigenous Chipewyan term for “big rabbit”.
The site is mainly accessible by air, with trucks only able to access via ice roads for a short period of time in winter months. An estimated 530 workers will be employed, and flown in for two week rotations.
It will produce 54 million carats of rough diamonds during its 12-year life.
With this new mine – the sixth to open in Canada in the last 20 years – the country becomes the fifth largest diamonds producer in the world by volume, as well as the third by value, recording more than $1.5 billion a year in exports.
Cleaver indicated a medium to long term growth in the demand for jewellery, which will still support diamond growth, although production is in decline.
China, the US, Japan, and India are the largest diamond purchasers, buying more than 70 per cent of diamonds sold each year.
Production to begin at world’s largest new diamond mine
Mountain Province Diamonds has began ramping up its Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories to commercial production, following its successful commissioning.
The Gahcho Kué, a joint venture between Mountain Province Diamonds and De Beers Canada, is considered the world’s largest new diamond mine.
The project will begin commercial production in the first quarter of next year and produce an average of 4.5 million carats annually during its 12 year life.
First ore was produced on March 23 2016, with Mountain Province President and CEO Patrick Evans saying both the commissioning and ramp up activities was a “major achievement” for the joint venture.
During the ramp up commissioning phase, the site also produced two large gems; a 12.10 carat and 24.64 carat diamond.
Its first diamond sale is set to take place by the end of this year.