Tuesday 4th August 2020

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Diamond fever hits the NWT

Prima Diamond lands prime locations to pursue the Northwest Territories’ gems

Reprinted by permission of Market One Media

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Diamond deposits, in the words of one senior geologist, are like pigeons. Where you find one, you’re likely to find an entire flock.

That’s the guiding logic behind a new wave of diamond mine development and claim staking in the Slave Craton in the Northwest Territories. The NWT already serves as host to some of the world’s richest diamond mines, starting with Ekati and Diavik, followed by Snap Lake, all in the central corridor of the Slave Craton.

A new wave of exploration pursues gems in the Northwest Territories

Gahcho Kué diamond mine under construction, projected to open in 2016.

Next to follow is the Gahcho Kué diamond project southeast of the prolific Ekati and Diavik diamond mines. When it begins production in 2016, Gahcho Kué is reputed to become one of the largest and richest new diamond mines in the world. This $700-million project has a combined probable mineral reserve estimated at 55.5 million contained carats. De Beers Canada owns 51% of Gahcho Kué and is the operator of the proposed mine. Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV, which discovered the Gahcho Kué diamond resource, owns 49%.

Next to Gahcho Kué is the Kennady North project with four confirmed diamond pipes. Two of the pipes returned diamond sample grades two to three times greater per tonne than Gahcho Kué, as reported by the company.

Circling in the vicinity of Gahcho Kué are projects led by successful veterans of the original 1990s Canadian diamond rush: Randy Turner, CEO of Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM; Buddy Doyle, director and vice-president of exploration with Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA; and Patrick Evans, president and CEO of Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI.

Turner discovered the Snap Lake diamond mine. Evans led SouthernEra Resources when it performed much of the foundational geological research in the Slave Craton area two decades ago. Doyle led a team involved in the Diavik discovery. He also took part in exploration at one of two properties in the area acquired this year by Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD.

In mineral exploration, “closeology”—proximity to a mineral resource—can mean a lot, or a little. For a gold deposit, it’s usually irrelevant. For diamonds it’s a whole different story.

“The best place to seek a high-grade diamond deposit is close to one that has already been identified,” explains Roger Morton, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta.

Prima Diamond—a comparative newcomer to the diamond exploration business—won the staking rush to acquire the highly prized Munn Lake property north of Gahcho Kué. Its Godspeed Lake property is immediately adjacent to Gahcho Kué on the south and has barely been explored.

“Diamonds tend to be like pigeons. They go around in flocks,” Morton says, pointing to Gahcho Kué as the spark for surging interest in the area. “In the Munn Lake area, for example, there is a kimberlite which is the host rock for diamonds.”

Interest in the southern Slave Craton took another jump this summer when tonnage estimates in Kennady’s Kelvin-Faraday kimberlite corridor increased by 30% to 10 million tonnes.

With its two properties, Prima is well positioned to take advantage of the excitement. The 14,000-hectare Munn Lake is 40 kilometres northwest of Gahcho Kué and 40 kilometres east of the Snap Lake diamond mine. It has been the site of $6 million worth of exploration, leading to the discovery more than a decade ago of a diamondiferous kimberlite, and huge kimberlite boulders resting at surface, some as large as 25 metres in diameter.

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