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Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife plant revived

by Greg Klein | August 14, 2019

Delays and missteps notwithstanding, Yellowknife once again has a diamond cutting and polishing facility in operation. On August 13 Almod Diamonds announced its Crown of Light factory had transformed a first batch of rough stones into jewelry. The parent company of Diamonds International specializes in its proprietary 90-facet Crown of Light cut, marketed largely through tax- and duty-free retailers in the Caribbean and other cruise ship destinations.

Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife facility revived

Almod reintroduces cutting and polishing to one of the
world’s most important diamond-mining jurisdictions.
(Photo: Almod Diamonds)

The YK operation takes place under the Northwest Territories’ amended Diamond Policy Framework, which seeks to expand benefits from diamond mining, by far the territory’s largest private sector employer. The policy seeks to have 10% of NWT-mined diamonds cut and polished within the territory, with experienced staff training local workers.

Currently the sole company taking part, Almod stated that increasing demand for its patented cut “created the need for this factory to invest in building a skilled team to cut the Crown of Light. The goal is to continue skills transfer and career development.”

The company hopes expanded operations will lead to a grand opening tentatively scheduled for next year.

Almod has planned a YK operation since buying the Laurelton factory in 2016 but failed to meet its 2017 opening target. Despite government incentives, previous attempts to encourage NWT diamond beneficiation have failed. Laurelton Diamonds and Arslanian Cutting Works shut down their local operations in 2009. In 2013 Deepak International vowed to revive the industry. But by 2017 RCMP were looking for president Deepak Kumar, alleging he fraudulently used storage containers full of junk as collateral for a loan of more than $1 million.

As a De Beers sightholder, Almod gets its NWT rough from Gahcho Kué, a 51%/49% JV that the global giant shares with Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD. The territory’s other two diamond producers are Ekati (majority-held by Dominion Diamond Mines) and Diavik (Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion).

Almod also runs cutting and polishing facilities in New York, Namibia and Ukraine.

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