De Beers opens Gahcho Kue, its third diamond mine in Canada, on Tuesday. A few quick facts about the industry:
The newest mine:
Gahcho Kue is Canada’s sixth diamond mine. It sits about 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The $1 billion project is expected to produce about 4.5 million carats, or 900 kilograms, of diamonds a year. De Beers owns 51 per cent of the mine, with the rest belonging to Mountain Province Diamonds.
Canada’s first diamond mine:
Diamond exploration in Canada goes back to at least the 1960s, but the first mine didn’t open until 1998 with BHP Billiton’s Ekati mine. Dominion Diamond Corp. bought the operation in 2013. It has produced about 63 million carats, or 12.6 tonnes, of diamonds as of early 2016.
No guarantee of success:
Out of the six diamond mines that have opened, two have had to shut down ahead of schedule. De Beers closed its Snap Lake mine late last year 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. Most diamond mines are in the Far North, which given its remoteness brings extra challenges.
The Diavik mine is Canada’s biggest, with about six to seven million carats of production a year. Rio Tinto and Dominion opened the mine in 2003 and it has produced more than 100 million carats, or 20 tonnes. The mine also produced the 187.7 carat Diavik Foxfire last year, the biggest diamond yet found in Canada.
Last year, Canada was the fifth largest diamond producer in the world by volume and third largest by value out of 21 countries tracked by the Kimberley Process, an organization that monitors the industry.