The former Ellendale diamond mine is set for a new lease of life in 2020, as Gibb River Diamonds accepts an offer to apply for new tenements.
Gibb River accepted the offer laid out by Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston, who has also invited India Bore Diamond Holdings to apply for other tenements at the site.
The two open cuts at the Ellendale site, about 135 kilometres east of Derby in the Kimberley region, produced nearly 1.3 million carats of gem and industrial-quality diamonds from 2002 to 2015.
The Western Australian Government opened expressions of interest in August 2018 to reopen the mine, which has previously provided half of the world’s high value yellow diamonds, with clients including United States jewellery giant Tiffany & Co.
Before mining can recommence, Gibb River and India Bore will need to complete for exploration in the new tenements but geological re-examination at the site confirms there are high prospects for future discoveries.
The Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety has spent $230,000 via the mining rehabilitation fund to ensure the site is environmentally safe and non-polluting before it is taken on by its new operators.
Johnston said after all of the work and funding, the government is pleased that the site is closer to restarting mining operations.
“It’s not going to happen overnight but restarting mining operations at the former Ellendale mine will be a high point in the rejuvenation of diamond exploration and mining in the Kimberley,” he said.
“It has taken 12 months to get to this point, but the state government’s tendering process is highly confidential and very thorough, so it is pleasing to have the expression of interest process wrapped up.”
After the mine closure in 2015, the Government created an exemption area under section 19 of the Mining Act to allow mining companies to apply for a new tenure.