Canadian Diamonds - Plenty of Diamonds are Coming out Canadian Mines
Canadian diamonds have been very successful in the marketplace. They are high quality diamonds that have been very popular in the Canadian jewelry market where people are excited to support the diamond industry of their own country. Although most of the rough is exported, a small number of diamond cutters in Canada produce finished stones.
The Potential of Canadian Diamonds
Throughout the 20th century most people would never have thought about Canada being an important producer of diamonds. Their knowledge of diamonds was fixed on mining operations in Africa and diamond trading centers in Europe.All of this started to change in 1991 when two geologists, Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson, found evidence of diamond-bearing Kimberlite pipes about 200 miles north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. One of these pipes would soon be developed by BHP Billiton into the EKATI Diamond Mine, which produced Canada's first commercial diamonds in 1998.
Ekati Diamond Mine
The EKATI Diamond Mine is Canada's original diamond mine. It was opened in 1998 by BHP Billiton, Canada, Inc. It was initially an open pit mine but mining has moved underground as the surface mineable ore was depleted. EKATI is located about 200 miles north of Yellow Knife, Northwest Territories and about 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Diamonds from the mine are sold under the Aurias trade name and verified through the CanadaMark service.
Diavik Diamond Mine
Diavik was the second diamond mine in Canada to produce diamonds. It is owned by the Harry Winston Diamond Corporation and Diavik Diamond Mines Incorporated. It is located about 200 miles north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and about 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The pipes being mined were originally on the bottom of Lac De Gras and were discovered by drilling through the ice. To mine the pipes a dike was built around them and the water was pumped out. Open pit mining then began on the lake bottom. Production is moving underground as the surface mineable ore is depleted.
Jericho Diamond Mine
The Jericho Diamond Mine was the third diamond mine in Canada and the first in Nunavut territory. It is located about 250 miles northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territiries. The mine was opened by Tahera Diamond Corporation and produced diamonds from 2006 to 2008 but the company lost money. In 2010, Shear Minerals, Ltd. acquired the property with the intent of bringing the mine back into production.
Victor Diamond Mine
The fifth Canadian diamond mine was the Victor Diamond Mine located in Ontario about 50 miles west of Attawapiskat. It is an open pit mine owned by De Beers and was the first diamond mine in Ontario. Mining occurs in one of sixteen diamondiferous kimberlite pipes on the property.
The Challenges Ahead...
The diamond mines in Canada face a number of challenges not face by competing mines in other parts of the world. The first problem is their very remote location. The mines can only receive overland freight during a short "ice road" season that might last between six and ten weeks. Any supplies not delivered in that limited time window must be delivered by air. The mines must also have housing and full facilities for all of their employees because they are all located away from towns or settlements where employees could be housed. These serve as logistical and economical disadvantages for these mines.A second problem is the cost of labor. Wages in African mines and Indian cutting facilities are very low compared to the wages paid to mining and manufacturing employees in Canada.A third problem is the fact that the open pit mines are being depleted and continued work in the ore body requires underground mining - which costs about 50% more per ton of ore produced.