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An additional 350 till samples were collected, with results pending. Previous sampling has shown indicator minerals, some of which don’t seem to have wandered far from their source. Some surface diamonds were also found. “In the Territories it’s very unusual to find diamonds in till,” Power says. “If you’re looking for indicator minerals for diamonds, diamonds are the best indicator mineral there is.”
Arctic Star hopes to see drilling begin in March or April, funded and operated by North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR as part of its 55% earn-in. In early November North Arrow announced “Canada’s newest diamond discovery” at its Pikoo project in Saskatchewan, where the company’s earning 80% from Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY. Stornoway, in turn, has its Renaud project in Quebec scheduled for commercial production in June 2016.
[Canada has] a very unique diamond, it’s got a great name, it’s in demand around the world and we’re running out of them.—Patrick Power, president of
Arctic Star Exploration
North Arrow traces its lineage back to Aber Resources of Diavik discovery fame. Aber branched off into Harry Winston, which became Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC, now holding 40% of Diavik (with Rio Tinto NYE:RIO holding the rest) and 80% of Ekati (with Canadian diamond pioneers Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson each holding 10%), along with 58.8% of Ekati’s Buffer zone. Arctic Star VP of exploration Buddy Doyle and director John Buckle played instrumental roles respectively in the Diavik and Ekati discoveries. North Arrow president/CEO Ken Armstrong “used to work for Buddy,” Power says. “They’re a very close-knit group of people who’ve gone through this experience before.”
Some of Canada’s more recent diamond exploration news came on November 19, when Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD announced the discovery of three additional kimberlite bodies at its Chidliak property on Baffin Island, bringing the project’s total to 67. The company’s waiting results from a 508-tonne bulk sample.
One day earlier Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI reported drill results from its Kennady North project in the NWT’s northeast. Twenty-one summer holes recovered 3,454 kilograms of kimberlite. The first 40% that was assayed shows a sample grade of 5.37 carats per tonne. The company has further geophysics and drilling scheduled for winter and spring, with an initial resource expected late next year.
The same day, quoting numbers that would make many companies swoon, Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV announced a private placement increase from $25 million to $29.1 million. Proceeds are earmarked for Gahcho Kué, “the world’s largest and richest new diamond development project.” A 49%/51% JV with De Beers at Kennady Lake, the project is slated to begin production in December 2015. In addition to Victor, De Beers operates the NWT’s Snap Lake underground mine.
On November 12 Shore Gold TSX:SGF updated its Star-Orion South diamond project in Saskatchewan, which undergoes environmental assessment work while the company seeks development financing.
But, especially in the Northwest Territories, companies are striving to maintain supply more than expand it, Power argues. Existing mines, he says, are running out of ore. Meanwhile Canada has “a very unique diamond, it’s got a great name, it’s in demand around the world and we’re running out of them. Ekati and Diavik have limited lives. They need new sources.”
Yet circumstances bode well. Back in the 1990s “everyone was learning what they were doing,” he adds. “Some of the work was just atrocious. But the people who are up there now are really good diamond people. They’re experienced, they’ve had success and there’s new geophysical techniques coming into play right now that will help find new discoveries. It’ll be exciting. It’s an exploration space that’s working well right now.”
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