Diamond Mines of the World: Canada
Canadian Diamond Mines
Article Copyright © 2009 AllAboutGemstones.com
Diamond mining within Canada is concentrated in a relatively small region of the Northwest Territories (NWT), in the northern half of the country, although in recent years exploration has taken place throughout Canada. As the consumer movement towards diamonds "conflict free" certified diamonds has increased, Canadian diamonds have steadily gained in popularity throughout North America.
Ekati Diamond Mine
Two of Canada's most productive diamond mines are Ekati and Diavik - both located in the pristine arctic wilderness of Canada's Northwest Territories, some 350 miles south of the Arctic Ocean. The Ekati diamond mine (below, right) is Canada's first diamond mining operation. It is located on Lac de Gras, at the eastern-most edge of the Northwest Territories. Prospector Chuck Fipke discovered the Lac de Gras kimberlite pipes in 1991.
The name "Ekati" means "Caribou Fat" in the native language of the indigenous Dog-Rib Indians of the Northwest Territories. The Ekati Diamond Mine began operations on October 14 1998. The mine now produces an average of three million carats of rough diamonds each year.
Diamonds from the Ekati mines are found in 45 to 62 million year old kimberlite pipes which lie directly underneath shallow lakes that formed in inactive volcanic calderas or craters (crater lakes). Diamonds from the Ekati Mine are sold under the trade name "Aurias," and their authenticity is verified through the "CanadaMark" service, operated by BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc. BHP Billiton Group is the world's largest diversified mineral resources company.
Seeing a marketing premium in their geographic distance from any possible association with conflict diamons, the Ekati mine laser-engraves the girdle of each diamond with the "Ekati" logo, as well as a unique serial number signifying its authenticity, and Canadian origin. The laser-engraving is only visible under magnification and the use of a special light filter (see simulation above, right).
Diavik Diamond Mine
The Diavik open-pit diamond mine (above, left) is located approximately 20 kilometers south-east of the Ekati diamond mine and 300 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Canada. The Diavik Mine is built over four kimberlite pipes that lie directly beneath the existing shallow lake-bed of Lac de Gras. Mining operations are located on Lac de Gras' East Island. Due to the harsh weather conditions, access to the Ekati and Diavik mines is by air or a temporary ice road. The gravel landing strip can accommodate large jet aircraft.
The mine began construction in 2001 and mining production commenced on January of 2003. The Diavik diamond mine is a joint venture between the Aber Diamond Corporation and Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Group and was built for a cost of 1.13 billion dollars. The Diavik mine is expected to produce 1.5 million tons of kimberlite ore material in its estimated 16-22 year lifespan. The mine employs some 700 workers and produces around eight million carats (approx. 90 million dollars US) of rough diamonds per year.
Bibliography on Canadian Diamonds
1. BHP Billiton, Ekati Diamond Mine . ekati.bhpbilliton.com
2. Mining Technology, New Techniques in Mining Technology . SPG Media Group PLC
3. Mining Technology, Ekati Diamond Mine . www.mining-technology.com
4. Aurias, Diamonds from the Ekati mine . www.aurias.com
5. Diavik, The Diavik Diamond Mine . www.diavik.ca
6. GIA, Gemological Institute of America . www.gia.edu
7. AGS, American Gem Society . www.ags.org
8. Southern Era, Southern Era Diamonds - Canada Projects . www.southernera.com
9. Trigon, Trigon Uranium Corp - Canada Diamond Projects . www.trigonuraniumcorp.com
10. Fred Cuellar, How To Buy A Diamond 5th Edition . Sourcebooks Casablanca