Prima Diamond joins the NWT Lac de Gras play with two compelling acquisitions
by Greg Klein
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According to the old maxim, nothing succeeds like success. But certain successful people can’t seem to get enough of it.
That’s drawn some of them back to the region of the dramatic diamond discoveries of 1990s Northwest Territories. Now exploration undergoes a new surge of activity, again focusing on the area around Lac de Gras which hosts three of the four mines that place Canada third for global diamond supply by value. Veterans of the earlier campaigns have returned, armed this time with not just experience but new technology. Evidently they believe the region has even more diamonds to be found. And, around the world, a growing market wants them.
Activity thrives at every stage, from early exploration to resource development to building Gahcho Kué, considered by partners De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV to be “the world’s largest and richest new diamond development project.” Remarkably, there’s still under-explored turf.
Gahcho Kué will take its place with the region’s other producers, Ekati (majority-held by Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC), Diavik (40% Dominion, 60% Rio Tinto NYE:RIO) and Snap Lake (De Beers), as well as the former Jericho mine.
Bordering Gahcho Kué to the north, west and south is Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) Kennady North property, which continues to show promising results as the project moves towards a year-end maiden resource.
Among the others is Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM, which last April expanded its regional portfolio by 43,000 hectares that show indicator mineral trains potentially associated with diamond-bearing kimberlite. Late last month Canterra got a $2-million vote of confidence from Jimmy Pattison, the richest of Canada’s rich.
The Redemption project brings together joint venture partners Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD and North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR in a 1,000-metre summer drill program that hopes to locate the source of diamonds found in the property’s glacial till.
Last spring Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA moved into the region with a 70% option on 19,716 hectares, placing the company adjacently north of Gahcho Kué and contiguously north and west of Kennady North.
Some notable people can be found on the companies’ management and boards. Canterra president/CEO Randy Turner and director John McDonald took Winspear Diamonds from the Snap Lake discovery to its sale to De Beers. Canterra director James Eccott goes back to Dia Met Minerals, the Chuck Fipke/Stewart Blusson company that found Ekati. Australian diamond rush veteran Buddy Doyle serves as VP of exploration for both Margaret Lake and Arctic Star. The latter company’s JV partner reunites him with some former Aber Resources alumni—Ken Armstrong, Grenville Thomas, the legendary Christopher Jennings and, of Diavik discovery fame, Eira Thomas.
Obviously they expect Lac de Gras to give up more diamonds. Joining them is Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD with two properties, both strategically located and featuring compelling characteristics. Last month Prima acquired the 42,000-hectare Godspeed Lake, adjacently south of Gahcho Kué and east of Kennady North. Then, on August 5, the company picked up Munn Lake, more than 14,000 hectares that’s 35 kilometres east of Snap Lake, 40 klicks northwest of Gahcho Kué and next to the northern boundary of Canterra’s Gwen property.
The wonder of Munn Lake is that it ever lay dormant. Some $5.7 million of exploration between 1996 and 2007 yielded two diamondiferous kimberlites. A 581-kilogram sample from the Yuryi kimberlite revealed 226 diamonds, including 62 macrodiamonds above 0.5 millimetres in diameter. A 42-kilo sample from the Munn Lake kimberlite showed 14 diamonds, including two macros.
At least five kimberlite indicator trains line the property. One of them might have started at the Munn Lake kimberlite. The others have unknown origins.
For all that, the project hasn’t seen modern exploration. “We can’t find any information that suggests the property was flown with a gravity survey,” says Jody Dahrouge, senior geologist/president of Dahrouge Geological Consulting. “Initial exploration in the Territories relied heavily on magnetics and electromagnetics to identify kimberlite targets. Diamond indicator minerals of course are a critical element to drilling any target.”
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