Monday 17th December 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Mountain Province Diamonds Inc (MPVD)’

Looking up, up north

October 5th, 2018

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

by Greg Klein

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

Baffinland president/CEO Brian Penney joins QIA president P.J. Akeeagok
and others at a signing ceremony for Mary River’s amended benefit agreement.
(Photo: Baffinland Iron Mines)

 

Nunavut’s environmental review said no to a mining proposal but Ottawa said yes. What happened?

Hoping to finally make a profit at its four-year-old Mary River operation, Baffinland Iron Mines asked permission to boost production from 4.2 million tonnes annually to six million tonnes. Worried about possible environmental effects, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended in late August that the federal government reject the proposal. But it was the NIRB recommendation that got rejected. Five cabinet ministers approved the mine’s request, for the time being anyway.

Swaying the decision was the support of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, whose members “strongly support the Production Increase Proposal as a method of furthering Inuit aspirations in the region,” Ottawa stated. Support also came from Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who urged a swift decision in favour.

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

It wasn’t long coming. Just one month after the NIRB forwarded its recommendation, Ottawa announced its approval, expressing concern about the socio-economic effects of shutting down the mine for part of the year once the 4.2-million-tonne limit is reached and about the mine’s long-term viability. Increased production will “allow the Inuit of the region the opportunity to maintain and more fully realize the economic and other benefits of the mine.”

That’s not to dismiss environmental concerns. Monitoring will take place until the end of next year, when permission comes up for review. Among other considerations will be the effects of dust on wildlife along a 100-kilometre trucking route from mine to port and of increased shipping on marine life. Considered one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits, Mary River also ranks as one of the planet’s northern-most mines.

The company received additional permission to build a 15-million-litre fuel tank and a 380-person camp at the Milne Inlet port, projects which the NIRB supported. Still under consideration by the board is Baffinland’s proposal to replace the truck route with a 110-kilometre railway.

The QIA, which will participate in environmental monitoring, represents some 14,000 people in the Baffin region. Baffinland, co-owned by Nunavut Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal, employs about 2,000 staff and contractors at Mary River and Milne Inlet. This year the QIA’s Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement with Baffinland brought in $11.65 million, a considerable jump from $3.11 million the previous year. The group netted another $3.7 million in leases and fees, most of it from Mary River. That, from a mine that’s yet to turn a profit.

The benefit agreement looks even better with amendments announced just days after the production increase approval. “Our goal was to increase training and employment opportunities, and we have done that and much more,” said QIA president P.J. Akeeagok. 

The agreement comes up for review every three years. Apart from a modified royalty structure, these amendments call for Baffinland to spend $10 million on a state-of-the-art training centre, significantly expand the Inuit training budget, provide four communities with research vessels currently priced at $300,000 each and fund a $200,000 annual monitoring program. The amendments intend to “increase Inuit employment in all aspects of Baffinland’s organization” as well as provide “improved support for all residents of the Qikiqtani communities,” the company stated.

The same day the agreement was announced came news from the Northwest Territories of diamond mining’s benefits, tangible and intangible. Compiling information from recent socio-economic reports for the territory’s three mines, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines reported 3,450 person-years of employment in 2017, 46% of that going to northerners. Natives comprised 51% of the northern workers and women 15% of all jobs.

Altogether the three operations—the Washington Group’s Ekati, Washington Group/Rio Tinto’s (NYSE:RIO) Diavik and De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Gahcho Kué—brought $1.2 billion in spending last year, $834 million spent in the north and $325 million to northern natives.

“In addition to jobs, business spending and training, the diamond mines have also contributed billions of dollars in community contributions and in taxes and royalties paid to public and indigenous governments,” pointed out Chamber president Gary Vivian. “With continued progress on infrastructure investment, and regulatory and land access improvements, mining in the north is truly a sunrise industry. Our mining potential is huge.”

Gary Vivian of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines celebrates Ekati’s 20th year of production and Diavik’s new A21 operation

September 17th, 2018

…Read more

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

August 24th, 2018

from the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines | August 24, 2018

The Northwest Territories diamond mining industry celebrated two milestones this month, gratefully acknowledged by northern government, Indigenous and industry leaders.

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

NWT government, miners and Indigenous community representatives
celebrate the official opening of Diavik’s fourth diamond pipe.
(Photo: Rio Tinto)

On August 9, Dominion Diamonds celebrated the 20th year of diamond mining at Ekati, the first diamond mine to have opened in Canada in 1998. An unexpected and initially unbelieved discovery of diamonds by geologists Chuck Fipke and Stu Blusson in 1991 proved that the ground they staked held significant deposits of jewelry-grade diamonds. In partnership with a major global mining corporation BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, they would see the new Ekati mine approved, constructed and producing high-quality diamonds a short seven years later. The mine is owned and operated today by the Washington Group.

Just a short 30 kilometres to the south, Diavik Diamond Mines celebrated the start of mining of their fourth ore body, named A21, on August 20. The planned US$350-million project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Mining and diamond production is expected to reach full production in Q4 2018. As with Diavik’s other three ore bodies, A21 was discovered under the large lake Lac de Gras and required the construction of a highly engineered dyke to allow open pit mining. Diavik’s dyke design received Canada’s top engineering award as a Canadian engineering achievement for its significant positive impact on society, industry or engineering. The Diavik mine is operated today by Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, which owns 60% of the mine, with the Washington Group owning 40%.

Generations of Northerners have benefited from our diamond mines. Our mining partners have provided thousands of rewarding careers for our residents; enriched our communities through grants, scholarships and contributions; and spent billions with local businesses.—Wally Schumann,
NWT Minister of Industry,
Tourism and Investment

Leaders and representatives of the NWT government and from the Indigenous groups that traditionally used the area participated in and helped celebrate the events at Ekati and Diavik.

In September, the NWT’s newest diamond mine—Gahcho Kué—will celebrate its second anniversary. In that short time, the mine has set production records, has hired over half of its workforce from the North (with one-third Indigenous) and this year has already spent $142.6 million with NWT businesses. The mine is operated by De Beers (51% ownership) and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD (49%).

“The Ekati and Diavik mines are world class operations and have helped put Canada on the map as the third most valuable diamond producer in the world,” said Gary Vivian, president of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “Most importantly, along with our third diamond mine Gahcho Kué, they operate to the highest of environmental standards, they continue to create significant socio-economic benefits for the North, and are also leaders in Indigenous reconciliation.”

Since 1996 when construction of Ekati began, all the NWT diamond mines have created significant economic benefits for Canada and for the North. These include:

  • Over 58,000 person years of employment for Canada, with half northern and half of that Indigenous

  • $20 billion in spending, of which nearly $14 billion is northern and $6 billion Indigenous

See Mining North Works, a new website highlighting the opportunities and benefits of NWT and Nunavut mining.

Related:

Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

May 30th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 30, 2018

As work resumes at Diagras, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA now returns to a second front in its search for Northwest Territories gems. On May 30 the company announced a new geophysics program had begun at Diagras, coinciding with a drill campaign that started earlier this month at the company’s Margaret Lake project.

Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

The Diagras agenda calls for ground gravity, magnetic and EM surveys around known kimberlites, as well as around potential kimberlites suggested by earlier geophysics.

The strategy will employ techniques that weren’t used when De Beers explored the area but have since proven successful elsewhere. Some examples include two other Lac de Gras-region projects, Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Kennady North and Peregrine Diamonds’ (TSX:PGD) Tli-Kwi-Cho DO-27/DO-18 kimberlite complex, Margaret Lake stated.

The company holds a majority interest and acts as operator on the 18,699-hectare Diagras property in a 60/40 joint venture with Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. The project sits 35 kilometres from Canada’s largest diamond producer, the Diavik mine of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond Mines.

Margaret Lake’s 100%-held, 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property lies nine kilometres north of the De Beers/Mountain Province Gahcho Kué diamond mine and two kilometres from Mountain Province’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits.

Last year’s Diagras work found “gravity and EM anomalies proximal to known magnetic kimberlites that constitute compelling drill targets,” Margaret Lake stated. Among areas of special interest is Jack Pine, one of the largest kimberlite complexes in Lac de Gras. Previous drilling has revealed diamonds, while an area of further kimberlite potential has yet to be drilled.

Additionally, gravity anomalies near the property’s Black Spruce kimberlite show similarities to other kimberlites in the region.

Meanwhile Margaret Lake has a rig testing six kimberlite targets on the company’s namesake property. Each target shows a gravity low, bedrock conductor or both. The company interprets those characteristics as potentially representing kimberlite.

Last month Margaret Lake closed a $495,500 first tranche of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

Read more about Margaret Lake Diamonds.

Emulating success

May 2nd, 2018

Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

by Greg Klein

With fresh financing and a rig en route, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA has drilling about to begin on its namesake project in the Northwest Territories. As with any outfit in similar circumstances, the company’s optimism has been buoyed by the performance of an illustrious neighbour, in this case Kennady Diamonds. But more objective encouragement comes from the extensive geophysics that determined the targets for Margaret Lake’s maiden drill program. Additionally, the project operator will be the same group that helped deliver success to Kennady.

“Aurora Geosciences acts as project operator for us and also for Kennady,” points out Margaret Lake president/CEO Paul Brockington. “So we’re using the same people who have done all the Kennady work for the last six years.”

Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

Public tribute came to Yellowknife-based Aurora at Mines & Money London 2016, when Kennady co-won (with NexGen Energy TSX:NXE) the Exploration Company of the Year award. Noting that Aurora had designed and carried out all of the property’s exploration since 2012, Kennady president/CEO Rory Moore said, “Gary Vivian, [then president, now chairperson of Aurora], and Chris Hrkac, [Aurora’s] senior project manager for the Kennady North project, together with their team deserve the lion’s share of credit for the successes that Kennady has enjoyed to date. Their innovative, systematic and dedicated approach to a technically challenging project has resulted in new and unique discoveries, and earned Aurora the respect of its peers in the industry.”

A further testament to their work came just last month as Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD closed its acquisition of Kennady in an all-share deal valued at $176 million. An MOU between Mountain Province and De Beers considers incorporating Kennady North into the joint venture that comprises their Gahcho Kué mine.

The 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property sits about nine kilometres north of Gahcho Kué and two kilometres northwest of Kennady North’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits. The Gahcho Kué winter road passes through Margaret Lake.

Aurora’s participation in the project will be nothing new. The company ran the geophysics that brought Margaret Lake to the drill-ready stage and Aurora will return very shortly, this time with a rig. Financing will begin with a $495,000 first tranche that Margaret Lake closed last month, out of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

Results from airborne and ground EM, along with airborne gravity/gradiometry pioneered by BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, show six initial targets. Each features either a gravity low, a bedrock conductor or both, possibly indicating kimberlite. “Our first objective is to see if these targets represent kimberlite and, if they do, the objective then would be to get sufficient kimberlite to analyze it for microdiamonds and indicator minerals,” Brockington explains. “We’ll try to drill as much as we can before spring break-up.”

But while encouraged by his successful neighbour, he’s not basking in reflected glory. Margaret Lake is “a science project,” Brockington emphasizes. “We’re very much relying on these gravity/EM anomalies to help us deliver the goods.”

It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite. They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite.—Paul Brockington, president/CEO
of Margaret Lake Diamonds

Farther north, in the Lac de Gras field hosting the NWT’s Ekati and Diavik diamond mines, Margaret Lake also has work planned for Diagras, where the company holds a 60% stake in a JV with 40% partner Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. This property hosts 13 kimberlites found by De Beers in the 1990s. Brockington thinks there’s more to be found.

“It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite,” he says. “They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite. We’re definitely going to do more geophysics there in the next few weeks. We hope to get a ground program going to look at other areas that weren’t covered in last year’s program and I think we’ll have a number of drill targets.”

The winter road to Diavik passes through the northwest corner of the 18,699-hectare property.

Looking forward to a busy and prospective period, Brockington says, “We’ve got a lot coming up and, when you look at the activity in the diamond patch, I think we’ve got about as much as anyone.”

Closeology helps Zimtu Capital close in on NWT diamonds

June 21st, 2017

by Greg Klein | June 21, 2017

A surprisingly neglected property in an especially prospective location gets some overdue attention as a crew mobilizes for the Northwest Territories’ Munn Lake diamond project. Held 50% each by Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC and a staking partner, the property has ground geophysics and till sampling about to begin.

The property does have diamonds, as historic work shows. Non-43-101 results from a 581-kilogram sample on the Yuryi boulder field revealed 226 diamonds, 62 of them macro-diamonds. Non-43-101 results from a 42-kilogram sample on the Munn Lake kimberlite sill showed 14 diamonds, including two macros and 12 micro-diamonds.

There’s closeology and then there’s closeology, as Zimtu Capital closes in on NWT diamonds

Southern Slave kimberlites show an incomparably
higher success rate than those of the northern craton.

The Munn Lake sill is the source of one of five kimberlite indicator mineral trains. The other four have seen little follow-up work, leaving their sources unknown.

The current agenda calls for further till sampling and a tight magnetic survey, explains Neil McCallum of Dahrouge Geological Consulting, which will conduct the program. Using GPS that wasn’t available to the previous operator, he expects “more focused” results.

One of the distinctions that really intrigues McCallum is Munn Lake’s especially prospective location. The Slave Craton has three diamond mines in operation, two past producers and an advanced stage project. But chances of a kimberlite actually holding diamonds are much higher in the southern Slave, home to Munn Lake.

“There are some 250 or so known kimberlites in the northern Slave’s Lac de Gras field whereas the southern Slave has only about 16 that are known,” McCallum explains. “Of those 16, six have been mined, are currently producing or are in advanced stages.” He points to De Beers’ former Snap Lake operation, the high-grade Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites being advanced by Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI and three kimberlites going into Gahcho Kué, the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV that officially opened last September as the world’s largest new diamond mine in 13 years.

That’s notwithstanding the Lac de Gras success stories in the north, home to the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC Diavik JV and Dominion’s majority-held Ekati mine.

Kimberlites of the south Slave are much older (by nearly 500 million years) and much rarer than those of the north. But when they’re found, they’re much more likely to bear diamonds—and diamonds of economic grades, McCallum adds.

“The Munn Lake property is closer to the kimberlites of the southern Slave cluster and the Munn Lake kimberlite sill is similar in geometry to the others in the southern Slave. So with the proposed expansion of the Munn Lake kimberlite sill and the potential for several new kimberlites on the project, the Munn Lake property has very good odds for a high-grade discovery.”

Munn Lake also benefits from a winter road running through the 14,000-hectare property, connecting Gahcho Kué with Yellowknife.

McCallum expects the mag results to arrive about one week after the survey finishes, with the till samples taking about a month. “I’m really looking forward to see what comes out,” he says.

“I’d like to see some drilling on the project too. On the kimberlite that the past operators did intercept, I’m not sure they hit the best target.”

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

December 22nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 22, 2016

The stones began the year still mired in their 2015 slump, in which rough prices reportedly fell 15%. The two biggest players, representing nearly two-thirds of global production, didn’t exactly agree on strategy. De Beers cut production and lowered prices while Alrosa initially boosted production, held prices stable and stockpiled some output. By April De Beers raised prices and Alrosa lowered production. The following month had De Beers talking about a “fragile recovery.”

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

Sales records for polished got pulverized, though. In May Sotheby’s raked in $32 million for the 15.38-carat Unique Pink in a jewelry sale that totalled a world record $175.1 million. The next day Christie’s scooped up $58.25 million for the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.”

Rough rode roughshod over records, too. The week before Sotheby’s and Christie’s big sales, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC got $63.11 million for its fresh-from-the-mine 812.77-carat Constellation. High expectations led to disappointment in late June, however, when the company rejected a $61-million offer for its 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough stone, the second-biggest diamond ever found. Lucara wanted at least $70 million.

As for Canadian diamond mining, it thrived.

A 100-million-carat production milestone brought celebrations to Diavik, the Northwest Territories JV of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC. In July Dominion finally decided to add the Jay pipe and its 78.6 million carats to the company’s majority-held Ekati mine.

The year brought new mines to Canada too. Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond producer in 13 years, was officially opened in September by partners De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV. October saw Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY do the same at Renard, Quebec’s first diamond mine. It reached commercial production just days before Christmas.

Looking at potential mines-to-be, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD took its Chidliak project on Baffin Island to PEA in July. In Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne region, meanwhile, Shore Gold TSX:SGF continued working on a feasibility update for its majority-held Star-Orion South project. Back in the NWT, Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI completed its maiden resource in December.

The company’s Kennady North project sits in the same Lac de Gras region hosting Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué. November marked the 25th anniversary of the Chuck Fipke/Stewart Blusson Ekati discovery that triggered the world’s biggest staking rush, brought diamond mining to Canada and helped transform the diamond industry.

In December the vertically integrated company Almod Diamonds announced plans to broaden the NWT diamond industry, the backbone of the territorial economy, by re-opening a Yellowknife cutting and polishing facility.

A few days after that announcement, the allure of diamonds played out differently in an Atlanta department store. Eighty-six-year-old Doris Payne, a determined, unrepentant and often unsuccessful diamond thief, wracked up another arrest. She’s been stealing stones for over sixty years.

Arctic Star/Margaret Lake Diamonds form JV, follow Kennady’s approach to NWT kimberlites

November 15th, 2016

by Greg Klein | November 15, 2016

A new joint venture brings together Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD and Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA in the Northwest Territories’ Lac de Gras region. Finding inspiration in Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) success at Kennady North, the partners plan a similar approach to their newly compiled property.

By posting an approximately $200,000 bond with the NWT government, Margaret Lake has earned a 60% interest in 23 claims totalling 18,699 hectares comprising the Diagras property, the JV announced November 15. Hosting 13 known diamondiferous kimberlites, the claims were formerly part of Arctic Star’s 54,000-hectare T-Rex property.

Arctic Star/Margaret Lake Diamonds form JV, follow Kennady’s approach to NWT kimberlites

The bond accompanies an application to extend the Diagras claims to August 2017.

“We identified the claims we wanted to joint venture based on our evaluation of historic data and we specifically focused on those claims that have known kimberlitic occurrences,” said Margaret Lake president/CEO Paul Brockington. His company will act as project operator.

The JV intends to follow Kennady’s modus operandi. The property’s Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites were dropped by De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV as they advanced Gahcho Kué, recently opened as the world’s largest new diamond mine in 13 years.

De Beers considered Kelvin and Faraday low grade, based on their lack of prominent magnetic anomalies, according to the Arctic/Margaret JV. Mountain Province then spun out Kennady to explore the pipes. That company “applied ground geophysics, gravity and Ohm mapper EM, which revealed extensions to these kimberlites that were not revealed in the magnetics,” the Diagras partners stated. “Subsequent drilling and bulk sampling has shown that these non-magnetic phases of the kimberlites have superior diamond grades to the magnetic phases and significantly increase the tonnage potential.”

Looking at some nearby deposits, the JV states that certain kimberlites at the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC Diavik mine and the high-grade portions of Peregrine Diamonds’ (TSX:PGD) majority-held DO-27 kimberlite “are non-magnetic, proof that a magnetic-only approach in the Lac de Gras field could miss significant diamondiferous kimberlite bodies.”

The JV plans to follow Kennady’s surveying approach at Diagras. Most of the property’s kimberlites have had only one to three drill holes into their magnetic anomalies.

The partners also see potential in “two untested geophysical targets and several diamond indicator mineral anomalies that are not clearly sourced from the known pipes.” Ground geophysics are scheduled to begin next spring.

Read how Lac de Gras diamond mines transformed the NWT economy.

A transformational discovery

November 10th, 2016

Lac de Gras glitter became the backbone of the NWT economy

by Greg Klein

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

The greatest staking rush the world’s likely seen, a shakeup of the global diamond industry and a tremendous boost to Northwest Territories finances—all that started with the Ekati discovery announced by Chuck Fipke 25 years ago this week. The effects on the NWT alone were momentous. The exploration sector boomed like never before, reaping four discoveries in six years that became working mines, while communities and individuals realized benefits both tangible and intangible.

Exploration fervour “certainly caused an injection into the economy,” notes Tom Hoefer, NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines executive director. “But where it really made a difference was when we had mines developed.”

Lac de Gras glitter became the backbone of the NWT economy

The Ekati mine began a transformation that
out-performed all other resources and sectors in the NWT.

It actually took two operations, Ekati and Diavik, to offset the territory’s 1990s economic malaise, he says. Yellowknife’s Giant and Con mines were winding down their 50 to 60 years of gold production. Around the same time, Nunavut’s 1999 separation dealt a blow to NWT revenue. “So there was a double hit on the economy. When Ekati went into production, it wasn’t enough to offset that economic downturn. It wasn’t until Diavik that the economy turned around significantly.

“It was almost palpable when Diavik got its approval. You could cut it, you could just feel it, all of a sudden people were saying, ‘Now we’re set.’ Those turned out to be world-class diamond mines, so in hindsight people were right.”

Of more than $60 billion worth of NWT mining output since 1932, gold provided 18%. It’s sometimes forgotten that the territory was a major base metals producer too, with zinc accounting for 30% of that $60-plus billion. But less than two decades of diamond production contributed 38%. The value of annual diamond production has topped $2 billion in the past “and I think we’re around $1.7 billion now,” Hoefer says. “That’s pretty significant when you consider that the NWT government’s entire budget is about the same.”

With last year’s shutdown of the Cantung tungsten operation, the territory has no mining but diamond mining. The three mines now in operation rank Lac de Gras as the world’s third-largest producer by value.

Figures from 2014 credit diamond mining with a 29% direct contribution to territorial GDP, by far the largest private sector portion. Chamber data attributes direct and indirect benefits to about 40% .

Taking another perspective, Hoefer points to a 2014 Canada-wide survey on aboriginal perceptions of the mining industry. Outside the NWT and Nunavut, favourable ratings ranged from 25% in Quebec to 45% in the Yukon. NWT responses were 55% favourable compared to 33% unfavourable, with 12% undecided. The territory ranked second only to Nunavut, which had 59/32/9 ratings.

“I would say the reason is all the aboriginal participation we’ve had in mining,” Hoefer says.

An NWT-specific survey taken this year shows overwhelming support. About 80% of respondents expressed positive feelings about the territory’s mining and exploration companies, 83% said regulation works well and 82% want more mining projects.

Those responses might partly result from the way benefits are distributed. Territorial legislation requires mining proposals to address not only environmental impacts but also positive socio-economic effects, Hoefer explains. Companies sign agreements with the government that address training, employment and local spending. The miners then file annual reports stating what they’ve accomplished.

“Put the clock back to before diamonds were discovered and the first mine built, there was maybe just a handful of aboriginal companies that could work with mining.” Now the Chamber lists over 60 NWT aboriginal companies created since Ekati began construction in 1996. They’ve shared over $5 billion of the $12 billion that diamond miners have spent in the territory.

The mines have also contributed over $100 million to communities under Impact Benefit Agreements.

And of course there are the jobs. Lac de Gras diamonds have provided over 24,000 person-years of mine employment.

That’s really in essence what I think a government would want to do with its resources—generate wealth for people who don’t have it.—Tom Hoefer,
executive director of the NWT
and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

“That’s really in essence what I think a government would want to do with its resources—generate wealth for people who don’t have it.”

Looking to the future, Lac de Gras explorers continue the quest for more deposits. Among existing miners, the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC 60/40 JV expects Diavik to last until 2024. Plans to add a fourth deposit won’t extend the lifespan but will keep production robust until shutdown, Hoefer says.

De Beers’ technically challenged Snap Lake shut down last year, at a cost of about 750 jobs. Some of them were saved by Gahcho Kué, which last summer became the world’s largest diamond mine to open in 13 years. But despite output that’s expected to be about two and a half times greater than Snap, the open pit will employ fewer people, currently 441. The De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV 51%/49% JV sees an initial 12-year mine life, but Mountain Province talks optimistically of extensions.

Getting back to the genesis of all this economic activity, Dominion’s majority-held Ekati would have its life expectancy extended to at least 2030 should the Jay pipe addition pass feasibility and final permitting. The mine employs around 1,500 workers and accounts for about $400 million in annual spending.

Commemorating the quarter-century since Ekati’s discovery, the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines presents a Diamond Gala on November 17, the final evening of this year’s Geoscience Forum. Hoefer says the event will be a three-part celebration recognizing the discovery, the subsequent construction and operation of four mines, and the support of aboriginal governments. Fipke will be on hand as guest speaker, perhaps marvelling at the transformation brought about by his pursuit of Lac de Gras glitter.

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

Renard ceremony marks official opening of Quebec’s first diamond mine

October 19th, 2016

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.

Renard ceremony marks official opening of Quebec’s first diamond mine

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.