The Gahcho Kue diamond mine – one of the largest new mines in the world – has officially opened in Canada’s North West Territories.
The open-pit mine is located near the Arctic Circle, 280 km northeast of the province’s capital Yellowknife.
De Beers officially opened it, with chief executive Bruce Cleaver telling AFP, “It’s the largest diamond mine brought into production in the last 13 years and it’s the biggest outside South Africa.”
The company owns a 51 per cent of the joint venture, with the remainder owned by Canada’s Mountain Province Diamonds.
Its name comes from the local indigenous Chipewyan term for “big rabbit”.
The site is mainly accessible by air, with trucks only able to access via ice roads for a short period of time in winter months. An estimated 530 workers will be employed, and flown in for two week rotations.
It will produce 54 million carats of rough diamonds during its 12-year life.
With this new mine – the sixth to open in Canada in the last 20 years – the country becomes the fifth largest diamonds producer in the world by volume, as well as the third by value, recording more than $1.5 billion a year in exports.
Cleaver indicated a medium to long term growth in the demand for jewellery, which will still support diamond growth, although production is in decline.
China, the US, Japan, and India are the largest diamond purchasers, buying more than 70 per cent of diamonds sold each year.