WA Government aims to reopen Ellendale diamond mine

Fancy yellow rough diamonds from Ellendale. Image: WA DMP

The Western Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest to reopen and operate the Ellendale diamond mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Ellendale has produced gem and industrial-quality diamonds. It previously provided about half of the world’s highly-valued fancy yellow diamonds, of which US jeweller Tiffany & Co was a major client.

Expressions of interest from participating companies will be evaluated by a panel from the Department, prior to an official decision by Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.

The winning company will be invited to apply for a new mining lease.

Johnston said, “We are looking for a company that will bring fresh eyes and a new approach to Ellendale.

“I expect the successful company will have experience in diamond mining and marketing, they’ll understand Western Australia’s regulatory requirements and be able to fund the new operation.”

Ellendale was mined by Kimberley Diamond Company (KDC) between 2002 and 2015, but its mining activities were ceased in July 2015 when KDC entered into administration.  KDC went into liquidation the following month.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has since been managing the site through the abandoned mines program. The Department ensured that the mine remained a viable option for future development.

Johnston said, “The McGowan Government wants to ensure the successful company upholds a safe working environment, consults effectively with the local community and respects the environment.”

The submissions will close on November 30, leading to an official decision in early 2019.

Ellendale diamond mine is 120km east of Derby in the West Kimberley region.