by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016
The event marked the “culmination of approximately 20 years of work to bring the Renard project from a greenfield exploration concept to a fully operating new diamond mine,” pointed out Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY president/CEO Matt Manson. Quebec’s first diamond mine, and Canada’s second to celebrate a grand opening in less than two months, Renard remains on schedule for commercial production by year-end.
Among staff, stakeholders and community reps in attendance were Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and Chief Richard Shecapio of the Cree Nation of Mistissini.
The 20-year project opened well ahead of schedule, having beat its target dates several times. Plant commissioning began in June, eight weeks ahead of a revised schedule that was already five months ahead of a previously projected timeline. Ore processing began in July and went through 91,010 tonnes by September 30, producing 111,556 carats, averaging 123 carats per hundred tonnes. Twenty-one stones surpassed 10.8 carats.
The first sale of Renard diamonds begins in Antwerp on November 14, two months earlier than anticipated.
Renard’s expected to average 1.6 million carats annually for an initial 14 years. The first decade should do even better, with an annual average of 1.8 million carats selling at an average $155 per carat.
Stornoway sees a potentially longer mine life. In addition to a probable reserve of 22.3 million carats, Renard has another 7.9 million carats of indicated resources and 13.35 million carats inferred, with all kimberlites open at depth. The company expects to move from open pit to underground in 2018.
Canada’s only diamond mine accessible by all-season road, the James Bay region operation is fuelled by LNG.
The company has also been drilling kimberlites at its Adamantin project about 100 kilometres south, but so far without success.
Another grand opening last month celebrated the world’s largest new diamond mine in 13 years, the Northwest Territories’ Gahcho Kué. A 51%/49% JV of De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV, the fly-in/fly-out operation’s expected to produce 54 million carats over a 12-year life, with average prices estimated at $150 per carat.