Robert Gannicott, who developed Diavik diamond mine, passes away

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Robert Gannicott, who helped discover and develop the Diavik diamond mine, has passed away at the age of 69.

Gannicott, founder of the company now known as Dominion Diamond Corporation, died on Wednesday following an extended battle with leukemia.

RELATED: NWT mine operator Dominion to appoint new chairman

“It is a sad day at Dominion,” read a statement issued by the company this week. “Bob Gannicott was a visionary and a pillar of the Canadian diamond industry.

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“He built the company from the ground up, taking it from a junior mining company to what is it is today as Canada’s largest independent diamond producer.”

As the main owner of the Ekati diamond mine and 40-per-cent owner of Diavik, Dominion Diamond has become a major producer of diamonds worldwide.

In April, Gannicott retired as chairman of Dominion citing “medical issues”. He had held the position since July 2004. The summer prior, he stepped down as chief executive officer following a lengthy absence from work.

Brendan Bell has since assumed the role of CEO while Jim Gowans has taken over as chairman.

On Wednesday, Bell described Gannicott as an “an exceptional leader as well as a good friend and mentor.”

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NWT Premier Bob McLeod also commented on Gannicott’s passing Friday, saying he “contributed immeasurably to the growth and evolution of both our economy and our territory.”

McLeod added: “He engineered the growth of a company which realized heralded international success, but never lost sight of its commitment to the Northwest Territories.

“His unwavering vision and passion for the North and hands-on leadership had a positive and direct impact on hundreds of residents employed by his company and the many NWT businesses it contracted.

“In Bob’s passing the NWT has lost a leader, a champion but most tragically a friend.”

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