A milestone at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine has been reached as the plant that processes ore into rough diamonds has completed commissioning, mine officials announced last week. De Beers, majority owner of the mine about 280 km northeast of Yellowknife, and minority owner Mountain Province last week announced the plant that crushes and washes ore has completed commissioning – a system of checks to ensure it works as planned.
"Successful plant commissioning and the start of ramp up to production at the world's largest new diamond mine is a major achievement for the Gahcho Kué
joint venture and a tribute to the operating partner De Beers Canada," stated Patrick Evans, president and CEO of Mountain Province, in a news release last week.
At this point about 97 per cent of construction and commissioning work at the site has been completed, said De Beers spokesperson Tom Ormsby. The first ore was exposed in March and sent to the process plant June 30, according to Mountain Province. The $1 billion project is ahead of schedule and remains on budget, De Beers and Mountain Province stated. Full commercial production is expected to occur in the first three months of 2017.
The mine is expected to produce 4.5 million carats per year and operate for 12 years. "It's certainly exciting," Ormsby said. "This is our third mine in Canada. That's fairly significant in the last 10 years for us. It's certainly a very big mine as well, it's the biggest one we'll have in Canada and it's going to be a significant player not just in Canada but on the global diamond scene."
Premier Bob McLeod, also minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said the Gahcho Kué announcement is good for residents of the territory. "We're very pleased," McLeod said. "The start-up of Gahcho Kué is good news especially with the state of our economy these days. This will have a direct impact on Northwest Territories residents, especially in the communities and their companies." The announcement comes at a time of shifting fortunes for the mineral extraction sector in the territory.
Article credit: Shane Magee, The Yellowknifer