The Gahcho Kué diamond mine project is on track to begin producing gems in the second half of this year.
That’s according to De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds Inc., who say the mine is now 87 per cent complete.
“We continue to make excellent progress at Gahcho Kué,” said Patrick Evans, president and CEO of Mountain Province.
“Key areas of focus are remaining earthworks, commissioning of the primary crusher and diamond plant, pre-stripping and stockpiling of kimberlite as well as preparations for operational readiness.”
Read: An Update On The Gahcho Kué Project
The Gahcho Kué diamond mine is the largest of its kind currently under construction and is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats a year over a 12-year life.
The project is located roughly 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife and 90 kilometres east of De Beers’ now idle Snap Lake, which ceased mining operations in December of last year.
At the time, more than 400 people faced layoffs, though some were transferred to Gahcho Kué.
Officials with De Beers are confident their new project will prove much more successful than Snap Lake, which was long plagued by water issues and costs associated with operating underground.
Read: Snap Lake Q&A: What De Beers And The GNWT Said
But Gahcho Kué is an open-pit mine, which is expected to make it much cheaper to operate than underground mines.
It also expects to generate a greater volume of diamonds, meaning it will earn more revenue to cover operating costs.
In a recent update, Mountain Province noted that ice road deliveries to the mine have proceeded as planned throughout the winter, bringing critical mining equipment to the site.
Meanwhile, the companies have appointed 10 senior managers to run the mine once it becomes operational.