Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2017

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 65 of 99

DIAMOND MINING 64 E&MJ • SEPTEMBER 2017 Canada's Diamond Sector Expands Since Ekati was commissioned in 1998, Canada's diamond industry has grown to the extent that the country is now the world's fourth-largest producer. Ekati was followed by Diavik in 2003, Jericho in 2006, and by Snap Lake and Victor in 2008. The commissioning of Renard and Gahcho Kué early this year followed a period of consolidation within the sector. However, it has by no means been plain sailing for the in- dustry, with Jericho — Nunavut's only diamond mine — closed as uneconomic in 2008 and Snap Lake falling foul of high pump- ing and water-treatment costs in 2015. Following this, De Beers sought offers for the property, but having failed to do so, an- nounced in December that it planned to flood the mine. Snap Lake produced 1.2 million ct in 2015, and at the time had resources to support production until the late 2020s. De Beers also faces challenges at its 600,000-ct/y Vic- tor mine in northern Ontario, where reserves in the existing pit are expected to be exhausted by late 2018. Earlier this year Reuters reported that the company had shelved plans to evaluate the neighboring Tango resource, following its inability to reach an agreement on the project with the Attawapiskat First Nation. De Beers presumably hopes for better fortunes with its third Canadian mine, Gahcho Kué, where it is in 51:49% joint venture with Mountain Province Diamonds. Operations at the three-pit complex started to ramp up in August last year, with commercial production being confirmed in early March. Located some 280 km northeast of Yellowknife in the North- west Territories, Gahcho Kué operates on a fly-in/fly-out basis. The world's largest new diamond mine, it is based on a clus- ter of four diamond-bearing kimberlites, three of which have a probable mineral reserve of 35.4 million mt grading 1.57 ct/mt. Commissioned at a capital cost of near $1 billion, the mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million ct/y, with a 13- year lifetime output of around 54 million ct. Mountain Province Diamonds discovered the 5034 kimber- lite pipe at Gahcho Kué in 1995, with De Beers then adding to the resource with the discovery of the other three pipes. Mining is now focused on the 5034, Hearne and Tuzo pipes, requiring the water level in the adjoining Kennady Lake to be lowered and protective dykes and berms constructed to allow access to them. In all, De Beers produced just over 1 million ct from its Cana- dian operations last year, markedly down from the 1.9 million ct it won in 2015 — mainly as a result of Snap Lake having been suspended at the end of 2015. Meanwhile, Stornoway Diamond Corp. sneaked in ahead of Gahcho Kué with the declaration of commercial production at its Renard mine at the beginning of January. Situated 350 km north of Chibougamau in the James Bay region of north- central Québec, Renard cost Stornoway, the sole owner, C$775 million to develop. The 1,109-ct 'Lesedi La Rona,' the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered, according to Lucara Diamond Corp. At auction last year, the bidding stopped at US$61 million, below the company's reserve price.

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