The operator of the Diavik diamond mine has announced a ‘major milestone’ of producing 100 million carats of rough diamonds since production began back in 2003.
Rio Tinto made the announcement earlier this week. Diavik – Canada’s largest diamond mine – is located roughly 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife.
The mine is known for producing predominantly gem quality diamonds destined for high-end jewelry in markets around the world.
“It’s an amazing milestone and we’re happy to celebrate it this month,” said Rebecca Alty, manager of communities and external relations with Diavik.
“Since 2003, we’ve been able to consistently produce carats and through that, generated employment, training and business benefits.
Roughly half of the mine’s 1,100 employees live in Canada’s North and a quarter of its workforce is Aboriginal.
“We’re keeping everything that’s important in place and not just focusing on production,” said Alty. “We’re focused every day on being safe, having strong engagement with communities and protecting the environment.”
In 2014, the development of a fourth pipe at Diavik – the A21 pipe – was approved.
While the pipe was part of the mine’s original plan, it’s expected to be an important source of production going forward.
“[The pipe is] currently on schedule and on budget,” added Alty. “We’re on track so the first diamond we’re looking to produce from A21 would be in late 2018.
“Between now and 2024 – when we’re scheduled to end – a few of our pipes will be dwindling in terms of carat production so A21 will keep us at a consistent production of about six to seven million carats a year.”
Since 2003, Alty says $6.8 billion has been spent on goods and services to support the mine, of which over 70 per cent has stayed with local businesses.