Canadian diamonds are diamonds which have been mined in any one of the major Provinces and territories of Canada. Diamond-rich areas weren't discovered in Canada until the early 1990s. Before that time, diamond mining in Canada had been essentially non-existent. However, within 10 years of their discovery, major diamond mines were unearthed and active mining began. Canada is currently the 3rd largest diamond producing country in the world.
During the 19th century, approximately 200 small diamonds had been found across the United States, mostly in Brown and Morgan counties in Indiana. In January 1906, George F. Kunz speculated that these diamonds were glacial erratics that had been transported from an unknown site in Canada.
Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson are credited with the discovery of the first diamond mines found in Canada in the mid 1990s. The first diamond rich area they discovered was in Point Lake, but it was quickly determined to be an uneconomical piece of land. Its find though, resulted in the largest diamond staking rushes in the history of mining. This massive search resulted in the discovery of the Ekati Diamond Mine which is home to 156 kimberlite pipes. Fipke and Blusson still share a 20% ownership of the mine, and since its discovery and start of operation in 1998, Ekati has produced over 40 million carats of diamonds. The discovery and later success of this diamond mine caught the attention of other major mining operations, and more massive mines were opened and fully operational within 10 years.
Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine
Located approximately 53 miles southeast of the Snap Lake Diamond Mine, the Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine Project is one of the richest diamond mines in Canada with an expected lifespan of 11 years. It is estimated that 54,000,000 carats will be recovered during the mine's lifetime. The mine is a joint venture between Mountain Province Diamonds, who owns 49% and De Beers with the remaining 51%. The first sales of mined diamonds were completed in January 2017. In February 2017, a 68-carat gem quality diamond was mined, the largest in the mines short history.
Located approximately 190 miles north of Yellowknife, the Diavik Diamond Mine is one of the largest open pit diamond mines in the world (according to production) and currently produces around 8 million carats annually. The mine is currently in a transitional shift from open pit to underground mining, and the life span of the mine is expected to be 16 to 22 years from its opening in 2003.
Canada's second diamond mine, Diavik, began production in early 2003. It is an unincorporated joint venture between Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (DDMI), which owns 60%, and Dominion Diamond Mines (formerly Harry Winston), which owns 40%. DDMI, the manager of the mine, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc, while Dominion Diamond Mines is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Washington Companies in Montana. The two joint-venture participants retain the right to market, independently, their respective share of the diamonds produced from Diavik.
The Ekati Diamond Mine is Canada's first underground diamond operation, and is owned by Dominion Diamond Mines. To date, Ekati has produced nearly 40 million carats of uncut diamond stones out of 6 open pit mines.
The Renard diamond mine is Quebec's first diamond mine. The mine is expected to produce an average of 1.6 million carats per year over an initial 14-year mine life.
Snap Lake Mine
The Snap Lake Diamond Mine is located northeast of Yellowknife as well, not far from Diavik. Snap lake is owned by De Beers and was their first mine outside of Africa. Snap Lake is also unique in the fact that it is Canada's first completely underground mine. De Beers spent nearly $900 million with local contractors and suppliers building the mine. Snap Lake is expected to produce 1.4 million carats annually and have an approximate life span of 20 years from its opening in 2008.
The Victor Diamond Mine is the second mine constructed and operated by De Beers in Canada, and the first diamond mine located in Ontario. Victor is an open pit mine and is currently producing 600,000 carats per year of rough diamond stones.
The Jericho Diamond Mine is the only diamond mine located in Canada's Nunavut territory, and had its initial operational period run from 2006 to 2008. During that time 780,000 carats were produced from the mine. In 2010, the mine was purchased by Shear Diamonds. They began processing diamonds from the existing recovery pile in 2012, but suspended operations later in that year.
A great deal of emphasis is placed on the Canadian diamond industry as a welcome alternative to the blood or conflict diamonds mined in Africa. Canada was one of the main supporters of the Kimberly process, a certification initiative created in 2000 to help deter the trade of conflict diamonds. All diamonds mined and cut in the Northwest Territories of Canada are laser inscribed with a unique identification number so that retailers can assure they are conflict-free stones. Taking another oppositional cue from Africa and the disastrous impacts their mining programs had on the surrounding ecosystems, all Canadian diamond mines are overseen by the Canada Mining Regulations for the Northwest Territories. This program ensures the preservation of surrounding land and aquatic habitats.
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