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Looking to Lac de Gras

August 27th, 2015

World diamond production drops but Canadians compete to make up the shortfall

by Greg Klein

An almost 4% increase in global diamond production by value last year coincided with an almost 4% drop in volume. Numbers released August 25 by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme indicate higher prices kept revenue growing despite lower output. But, should December’s optimistic forecasts hold, demand will call for new sources. Among the most promising locations is Canada, which the Kimberley Process says held its third place spot for global production by value even as Russia pushed Botswana into second place. In fact Canada owes its status to just one region of the Northwest Territories, Lac de Gras, which hosts three current mines, a soon-to-be fourth and an encouraging exploration play.

The region’s most recent entry is Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC, which on August 25 announced exploration had begun on the Munn Lake project held by the company and a staking partner. Despite about $5.7 million of work between 1996 and 2007 that found two diamondiferous kimberlites, the 14,000-hectare property has yet to undergo modern exploration.

World diamond production drops but Canadians compete to make up the shortfall

Of four kimberlites under its focus, Kennady Diamonds plans a
2015 maiden resource for Kelvin, further infill drilling for Faraday
1 and 2, and exploration at MZ.

Yet a previous 581-kilogram sample from the project’s Yuryi kimberlite showed 226 diamonds, among them 62 macro-diamonds above 0.5 millimetres in diameter. A 42-kilo sample from the Munn Lake kimberlite yielded two macros and 12 micro-diamonds. Over 2,500 samples revealed at least five distinct kimberlite indicator mineral (KIM) trains lining the property.

Zimtu now has a crew sampling KIMs to validate historic sampling and “provide additional insight into the diamondiferous potential of each area.”

Earlier this month Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced plans to explore its 54,000-hectare T-Rex property in Lac de Gras. Historic work found over a dozen kimberlites, most of them diamondiferous, the company stated. Historic, non-43-101 results of a 436-kilo bulk sample from the Jack Pine kimberlite reported 572 micro-diamonds.

Another 299 micro-diamonds turned up in 360 kilos of Jack Pine kimberlite drilled in 2005, according to 43-101-compliant results.

Last June Arctic Star reported an update from North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR on Redemption, their Lac de Gras joint venture. Initial interpretation of ground geophysics indicates a number of targets for a potential 2016 winter drill program, Arctic Star stated. Its partner also has the property’s surficial geology under analysis to better define and interpret the region’s South Coppermine KIM train.

With about 97,220 hectares of Lac de Gras turf, Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM said in June it’s identified several areas “that warrant further detailed exploration, including drilling,” along with other areas that could undergo till sampling and geophysics.

Last month Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA announced an agreement, subject to TSXV approval, to acquire the remaining 40% interest in the Margaret Lake property, giving the company sole ownership. The company anticipates a winter drill program to test targets identified by last year’s airborne gravity survey. The 19,716-hectare property lies contiguous to the north and west of Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) Kennady North project, the region’s most advanced project other than the Gahcho Kué mine-to-be, which Kennady surrounds on three sides.

With four kimberlites under assessment at the 61,000-hectare property, Kennady reported results of a 443-tonne bulk sample from the Kelvin pipe on August 26. Of 16,247 diamonds recovered from four zones of Kelvin’s “more diluted” southeast lobe, 35 weighed over one carat. The zones averaged 2.02 carats per tonne for diamonds larger than 0.85 millimetres.

The lab described the five largest as follows:

  • 4.22-carat white/colourless, transparent macle with no inclusions

  • 3.95-carat brown, transparent aggregate with inclusions

  • 2.79-carat light brown, transparent aggregate with minor inclusions

  • 2.63-carat white/colourless, transparent octahedral with inclusions

  • 2.59-carat white/colourless, transparent dodecahedron with no inclusions

The project’s winter agenda calls for another bulk sample from Kelvin’s north lobe, where a 19-tonne mini-bulk sample last year averaged 2.59 carats per tonne. Kennady has Kelvin slated for a maiden resource by year-end. The company also has exploration drilling underway at the project’s MZ kimberlite and further infill drilling planned for the Faraday 1 and 2 pipes.

Kennady closed a $4-million private placement earlier this month.


In operation or under development: Canada’s diamond mines

Canada’s in the forefront of countries trying to make up the diamond supply shortfall, with new mines coming online as others face depletion. Besides the NWT’s three operations and De Beers’ Victor mine in Ontario, two others are in development.

Of the three Lac de Gras mines, Dominion Diamond’s (TSX:DDC) majority-held Ekati has about five years left to its life expectancy, although development of the Jay deposit could potentially add another 11 years.

Diavik, a Rio Tinto NYE:RIO/Dominion 60/40 JV, would last to 2023 with the addition of a fourth pipe.

De Beers’ Snap Lake could last to 2028, although with declining output. In March the global giant said an amended water licence might be necessary to avert a much earlier shutdown. In June the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board recommended the NWT government approve the application.

Ontario’s only diamond mine, De Beers’ Victor, faces depletion in 2018. The company hopes to postpone its doom by developing the Tango kimberlite, a smaller, lower-grade deposit seven kilometres northwest.

World diamond production drops but Canadians compete to make up the shortfall

On schedule for H2 2016 production, Gahcho Kué would
become “the world’s largest and richest new diamond mine,”
according to Mountain Province.

Now building Quebec’s first diamond mine, Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY has operations scheduled to begin at Renard late next year and commercial production slated for Q2 2017. Although potential resource expansion continues, the company estimates Renard would supply 1.6 million carats annually for 11 years, providing about 2% of global supply.

A fourth Lac de Gras operation, destined to become “the world’s largest and richest new diamond mine,” remains on track for H2 2016 production. Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV and joint venture partner De Beers expect Gahcho Kué to produce an annual average 4.5 million carats over a dozen years.

In Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne region, Shore Gold’s (TSX:SGF) majority-held Star-Orion South underwent a spring drill program to update the Orion South kimberlite’s resource. Although the project reached feasibility in 2011 and passed a federal environmental review in December, Shore now plans a revised feasibility to reduce capex.

In addition to regions around existing and future mines, Nunavut and Saskatchewan’s Pikoo region also draw significant diamond exploration.

Disclaimer: Zimtu Capital Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Zimtu Capital.

Replenishing reserves

December 11th, 2014

With a decade of diamond demand outgrowing supply, Canada’s a target for new sources

by Greg Klein

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Diamonds: Global supply and demand

Miners of other commodities might welcome half of the diamond dilemma. Forecasts see continued market growth for another decade. But production will taper off. That’s the 10-year prognosis from Bain & Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. Meanwhile another report from the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines addresses the need to maintain production in the Northwest Territories, the world’s third-largest source of diamonds by value and home to a busy exploration scene.

The December 9 Bain study, which generally agrees with a September report from De Beers, expects an average 4% to 5% compound annual growth in rough diamond demand to 2024 driven largely by India, the U.S. and especially China. Supply growth, on the other hand, should lag behind at 3.5% to 4% up to 2019, then fall to somewhere between 1.5% and 2% for another five years.

With a decade of diamond demand outgrowing supply, Canada’s a target for new sources

The world’s largest source of new production would be Gahcho Kué, the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV joint venture slated for 2016 production in the NWT’s Lac de Gras region. The mine’s expected to produce between five and six million carats annually to 2020.

Bain forecasts Lukoil’s Grib mine in Russia at four to 4.5 million carats a year when it begins operation in 2016. After that would come the Karpinsky-1 pipe at ALROSA’s Lomonosov project in Russia, expected to yield about three million carats annually after reaching commercial production in 2015. Stornoway Diamond’s (TSX:SWY) Renard project in Quebec, slated for 2016 commercial production, should be good for another 1.5 million carats a year. Looking farther ahead, Rio Tinto’s (NYSE:RIO) Bunder mine in India is projected to yield another three million carats annually on reaching full production in 2020 or 2021.

“Other new mines under development are relatively small; each is projected to produce one million or fewer carats annually,” the report states.

“Because it takes seven to 10 years to develop a mine, even if major new deposits were discovered within the next few years, there would not be enough time to bring them to full production by the end of the forecast period,” the study adds.

Diamond supply: The Canadian outlook

The supply/demand imbalance notwithstanding, jewelry retailers show increasing eagerness to trace diamonds to ethical sources, Bain points out.

Among those sources is Canada, renowned for high-quality, conflict-free stones. Diamond mining now takes place in Ontario and the NWT, with Quebec expected to join soon and Saskatchewan another possible contender. Output from just three mines in Lac de Gras ranks the NWT region third globally for diamond production by value.

Of those three, Dominion Diamond’s (TSX:DDC) majority-held Ekati is projected to run out of ore in 2019, according to the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. The chamber gives the Dominion/Rio Diavik operation a life expectancy to 2024 and De Beers’ Snap Lake until 2028.

Rio has since announced plans to bring Diavik’s A-21 deposit online. Yet the chamber maintains A-21’s expected to maintain current production, not extend mine life.

Ekati’s best chance for a stay of execution is the Jay project, “the largest diamondiferous resource in North America,” according to Dominion, and a potential extension of 10 or more years to the Ekati operation. Should environmental approval arrive by the end of 2015, Dominion hopes to begin operations by 2019.

Diamond exploration: The juniors move in

Not surprisingly, it’s up to the juniors to meet growing demand. Since Canadian diamonds are found in kimberlites and kimberlites tend to come in clusters, most exploration takes place near known deposits—with the hope that nearby kimberlites will also contain diamonds.

The hottest hotbed of activity is the NWT, especially around Gahcho Kué. Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI holds turf on three sides of the project. Last month the company mobilized for more exploration and delineation drilling on Kelvin, one of the Kennady North project’s four diamond-bearing kimberlites. Diamond recovery results are expected by year-end from two more mini-bulk samples.

Another Gahcho Kué neighbour, Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD holds the 42,000-hectare Godspeed Lake project immediately south of the mine-to-be. Forty kilometres northwest of Gahcho Kué and 35 kilometres east of Snap Lake, Prima holds the 14,000-hectare Munn Lake project. A 581-kilogram sample from one Munn Lake kimberlite gave up 226 diamonds while a 42-kilogram sample from another revealed 14 diamonds. Prima also optioned the Orion diamond property, 2,275 hectares in Quebec’s Otish Corridor, north of Stornoway’s upcoming operation.

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A gem of an objective

September 22nd, 2014

Four factors position Prima Diamond for Northwest Territories exploration

by Charlotte McLeod | Reprinted with permission of Diamond Investing News

If diamond industry veterans have been feeling a sense of déjà vu this year, it’s understandable.

A key trend in 2014 has been renewed interest in Canada’s Northwest Territories, an area that was originally brought into focus in the early 1990s after exploration geologist Chuck Fipke found diamonds in the Lac de Gras region.

Four factors position Prima Diamond for Northwest Territories exploration

Fipke’s discovery ultimately became the Ekati mine, and its start-up in 1998 was followed by production from the Snap Lake and Diavik mines in 2002/2003 and 2008, respectively. They’ll be joined by Gahcho Kué, a joint venture between De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV in 2016.

That might sound like a lot of mines—especially when the Ontario-based Victor mine and Stornoway Diamond’s (TSX:SWY) upcoming Renard mine in Quebec are considered—but as Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM CEO Randy Turner told Diamond Investing News back in June, “eventually these mines do come to an end.”

It’s that attitude that has brought a variety of diamond exploration hopefuls back to the Northwest Territories.

Where to invest?

With so many companies flocking to the region, it can be tough for investors to figure out which are worth taking a closer look at. It can also be difficult for companies to get the word out about their projects.

One company that doesn’t seem to be having that problem is Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD, which in July and August entered option agreements to acquire the Godspeed Lake and Munn Lake diamond properties, both—of course—in the Northwest Territories. A recent talk hosted by Prima in Vancouver was well attended and those present seemed eager to learn more about the company.

Speaking was Roger Morton, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department. He recently wrote the soon-to-be-released NI 43-101 report on Prima’s Godspeed Lake property, and his goal was to give attendees an understanding of why the company is worth some attention.

In a nutshell

Morton emphasized that despite his involvement in the Godspeed Lake report, his intent was to offer an unbiased look at whether the company has what it takes to succeed. To do so, he pointed out four factors working to Prima’s advantage:

The right commodity: “Number one,” said Morton, “they’re dealing with the right commodity. If you look at supply and demand curves, the price curves, [diamonds aren’t] affected by the Fed like gold is.”

Good government: The Northwest Territories government “is very experienced at handling and administering an exploration industry and the subsequent industries,” Morton noted. He added that the right workforce is also in place.

Lots of land: Prima has “a lot of land over those two claim blocks, 560 square kilometres in total,” Morton said. “There’s a fair chance of finding something interesting on there.”

In good company: “The neighbours are very expert. We’ve got De Beers, we’ve got a number of companies that are very well versed in [the area’s] geology.” And they’ve found kimberlites rich in diamonds, he stated.

Of course, that’s not to say Prima will face no challenges. As Morton explained, it’s possible weather will be an issue. “Can you travel, can you work in those low temperatures?” he asked. “Do they have a place in a more equitable climate to do work in the wintertime?”

Good neighbours

The fourth point working in the company’s favour is the one that Morton emphasized most heavily, and the map below indicates why. Prima is clearly in close proximity to the region’s key players.

To explain why proximity is so important, Morton gave his audience a short lesson in geology. Diamonds, he said, are present in the upper mantle because when carbon in the Earth’s crust is transported down to that level—by subduction, for instance—intense pressure transforms it into diamonds.

Kimberlites, the best-known diamond host rock, are formed when the upper mantle partially melts and finds an area through which it can erupt to the Earth’s surface. When that happens, diamonds are sometimes dragged upward into the lower crust. Morton emphasized, “They get scavenged from the upper mantle to the lower crust just by accident—they are passengers, they have nothing really to do with the kimberlite genesis at all.”

“It’s a bit of an odd situation where you have some that pick up a lot [of diamonds] and some that don’t pick up any at all. Some pick up just a few.” That said, kimberlites “generally occur along linear trends” meaning that if you find one, more might be nearby. Illustrating his point, Morton showed pictures of the Ekati and Diavik mines, where multiple kimberlites are clearly lined up.

All that is to say that Prima should have a leg up when it eventually starts exploring.

What’s next?

Investors interested in hearing more about Prima would do well to watch for the NI 43-101 report on Godspeed Lake. As mentioned, Morton believes it will be released in the next month or so. The company also has a private placement in the works.

In terms of the prospects for the diamond industry as a whole, Morton ended by stating, “There’s a new frontier in the Northwest Territories. We’re seeing a reawakening of interest in diamond exploration and discovery … and I’m glad to see it from a personal standpoint.” Certainly encouraging news for the market.

Related reading:

Diamond mining in Canada

Diamond veteran Randy Turner heads north once again

Diamonds in demand: Supply can’t keep up so the quest continues for new deposits, says De Beers

Securities disclosure: Charlotte McLeod holds no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Disclaimer: Prima Diamond Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Prima Diamond.

Kennady, Margaret Lake update Lac de Gras diamond projects

September 16th, 2014

by Greg Klein | September 16, 2014

The most advanced of the juniors in the Northwest Territories’ diamond-rich Lac de Gras region, Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI announced a $5-million private placement September 16, one day after releasing a progress report for its Kennady North project. Approximately $3.5 million of the placement has already been subscribed to by Bottin International Investments, Kennady’s largest shareholder.

The project lies adjacently north and west, and to the southwest, of Gahcho Kué, scheduled by De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV to start producing diamonds in the second half of 2016.

Kennady, Margaret Lake update Lac de Gras diamond projects

Four known kimberlites and about four exploration targets
have drilling scheduled this season at Kennady North.

Kennady reported a delineation hole that added another 215 metres (not true width) to the project’s Kelvin kimberlite, surpassing last July’s 183-metre intercept that the company had called the project’s longest to date. The new result started at a shallower-than-expected downhole depth of 157.5 metres and remains open at 373 metres in depth. A “fan” of three holes at different angles has delineated Kelvin “well beyond the current geological model,” said CEO Patrick Evans. “Preparations are now underway for the drilling of a fan of three further delineation holes to continue tracking Kelvin to the north.”

That will follow four other delineation holes, two drilling to the east and two to the west, with the three-hole fan in the pipe’s centre.

Of the other recently reported holes, one showed 32.15 metres of kimberlite starting at 215.7 metres. Two holes at different angles from the same collar found 161.5 metres starting at 127 metres in depth, and 164 metres starting at 152.25 metres.

When diamonds are found in Canada, they’re in kimberlites. But few kimberlites actually host the gems. Earlier this month, however, staff logging Kelvin drill core noticed a “high-quality” 0.94-carat diamond that Kennady described as “white/colourless, transparent, octahedral, distorted, twin with etched trigons” and without inclusions. The stone came from a depth of about 75 metres.

Expected in Q4 are lab results for the 25-tonne mini-bulk sample extracted from Kelvin last spring. The summer program has pulled out another 22.5 tonnes of Kelvin kimberlite. In addition to delineation and mini-bulk sampling, the season’s agenda calls for exploration drilling at Kelvin.

Kennady North’s Faraday, MZ and Doyle kimberlites also have drilling scheduled this season, as do approximately four new exploration targets. Early last month Kennady lauded Faraday results of 5.1 carats per tonne as among Canada’s highest-ever sample grades.

Also on September 15 Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA reported from two nearby properties. Margaret Lake lies immediately north of Kennady North, with a thin southward extension that partly divides its neighbour. West of Margaret Lake, the eponymous company optioned 49% of Canterra Minerals’ (TSXV:CTM) Marlin property.

Airborne gradiometry and magnetics have been completed on Margaret Lake and part of Marlin. The latter property will also get “a digital terrain model together with detailed bathymetry using WorldView2 high-resolution satellite imagery,” the company stated.

On reviewing Margaret Lake’s historic ground geophysics, the company identified three targets in the property’s narrow southern extension. As for the recent survey, preliminary analysis “shows a gravity response that relates to the two historic ground gravity targets,” the company added. “These three targets exhibit characteristics similar to known kimberlite bodies and will be subject to further evaluation.”

Besides the Gahcho Kué mine-in-progress, Lac de Gras hosts three of Canada’s four diamond producers, Diavik (60% Rio Tinto NYE:RIO/40% Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC), Ekati (80% Dominion) and De Beers’ Snap Lake.

Other companies exploring Lac de Gras include Canterra, North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD and Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD.

Read more about Lac de Gras exploration and Prima Diamond.

Read about diamond markets, geology and exploration.

Disclaimer: Prima Diamond Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Prima Diamond.

Diamond fever hits the NWT

September 10th, 2014

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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Exceeding expectations

September 4th, 2014

As Dominion Diamond leads the way, others vie for a share of Lac de Gras riches

by Greg Klein

Better than expected production volumes, grades, sales and prices mark another strong quarter for Dominion Diamond’s (TSX:DDC) two Lac de Gras-region mines in the Northwest Territories. Announced September 3, the fiscal Q2 2015 financials show strong performance and optimistic forecasts for a company that refrains from modesty—it boasts a reputation as “the world’s third-largest producer of rough diamonds by value.”

Those bragging rights result from the company’s 40% interest in the Diavik mine, which is operated by majority owner Rio Tinto NYE:RIO, and Dominion’s 80% stake in Ekati, which the company operates itself. Dominion also holds a 58.8% ownership in resources surrounding Ekati.

Quoting all dollar amounts in U.S. currency, Dominion recorded a Q2 net income of $26.6 million or $0.31 per share. The treasury ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents totalling $384 million. Three months of sales brought in $277.3 million, with $107 million coming from Diavik and $170.3 million from Ekati. Dominion’s operating profit came to $46.5 million, nearly three times the $15.7-million profit for the same period last year.

As Dominion Diamond leads the way, others vie for a share of Lac de Gras riches

Not included in the figures was $10.6 million in sales from Ekati’s Misery satellite pipes, still classified as pre-production in Q2. They began commercial production on September 1.

Production numbers were reported differently for the two mines. Dominion reported 40% production figures for its 40%-held Diavik but 100% production for its 80%-held Ekati. Diavik’s numbers came from three months ending June 30 while Ekati’s came from the quarter ending July 31. On that basis, Ekati produced 802,000 carats, compared to 483,000 for the same period last year. Diavik gave up 860,000 carats compared to 624,000. Overall production for the last two quarters exceeded company expectations by 30%.

The stones find willing buyers. That six-month period “saw continuing growth in diamond jewellery sales in the United States and the mass market in China, which together account for over half of the world’s diamond jewelry sales, resulting in rough diamond prices rising approximately 8%,” Dominion stated. A seasonal slowdown “failed to materialize this year due to the strength in the polished diamond markets.”

The quarter’s exploration expenses came to $6.8 million, compared to $3.1 million for Q2 2013. All of it went to the Jay pipe, part of Ekati’s Buffer zone and considered to be the mine’s future. Hoping to extend Ekati’s life by another decade beyond 2019, Dominion has budgeted $15.5 million on Jay, to develop North America’s “largest diamondiferous resource.”

But Ekati’s not the only Lac de Gras project bursting with superlatives. “The world’s largest and richest new diamond development project,” as owners Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV and De Beers call Gahcho Kué, is planned for full commercial production by January 2017.

That will be Canada’s fifth operating diamond mine, including De Beers’ Snap Lake, also in Lac de Gras, and its Victor mine in Ontario.

[The six-month period] saw continuing growth in diamond jewellery sales in the United States and the mass market in China, which together account for over half of the world’s diamond jewelry sales, resulting in rough diamond prices rising approximately 8%.

And, as Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI shows at its Kennady North project, there are yet more Lac de Gras diamonds to be found. Located north, west and south of Gahcho Kué, the project’s focus is the Kelvin kimberlite which undergoes delineation, exploration and mini-bulk sample drilling. The current program also has drills scheduled to turn at three other kimberlites and around four new exploration targets. Results from a previous Kelvin bulk sample, along with an initial resource, are expected in Q4.

North of Kennady North, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA nears completion of an airborne gravity survey over its Margaret Lake property, recently expanded to 23,199 hectares. Late last month the company optioned 49% of Canterra Minerals’ (TSXV:CTM) Marlin property contiguous to the north and west of Kennady North, and west of Margaret Lake.

Canterra crews have spent the summer on till sampling at the company’s Hilltop, King, Marlin, Prism and Gwen properties, all located between Snap Lake and Gahcho Kué.

In July Prima Diamond TSXV:PMD moved immediately south of Gahcho Kué and east of Kennady North to pick up the 42,000-hectare Godspeed Lake project. Prima followed that acquisition with another in August, the 14,000-hectare Munn Lake, from where a 581-kilogram sample from one kimberlite yielded 226 diamonds while a 42-kilogram sample from another revealed 14 diamonds.

Even Dominion, unsated by success at Ekati and Diavik, wants more of the region’s gems. The company’s currently earning 55% from North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR of the Lac de Gras joint venture, which has so far undergone till sampling and geophysics. In the same vicinity, meanwhile, North Arrow is earning 55% of the Redemption project, a JV with Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. After summer drilling wrapped up last month, intervals from a fault zone are being analyzed for kimberlite indicator minerals.

Read more about Lac de Gras diamond activity.

Read about diamond markets, geology and exploration.

Disclaimer: Prima Diamond Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Prima Diamond.

Seeking sub-Arctic ice

August 8th, 2014

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.

Prima Diamond joins the Lac de Gras play with two compelling acquisitions

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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August 7th, 2014

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August 6th, 2014

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Consumer confidence in the U.S. rises to highest since October 2007 VantageWire
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August 5th, 2014

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Diamond exploration watch: Canadian billionaire takes 19% stake in Canterra Stockhouse
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