The history of diamond mining in Canada is surprisingly short. Geologist Charles Fipke discovered the first economic deposit of diamonds in the country’s Northwest Territories in 1991, according to NPR. That set off the biggest staking rush in the history of North America. Almost eight years later, the first diamond mine opened in Canada.
Since then, Canada has become the third-largest diamond producer by value, coming after only Botswana and Russia. However, mining in the Northwest Territories isn’t easy. Because of its harsh conditions, mining companies have to spend months preparing and bringing in supplies and equipment in order to operate. The government also maintains strict operational requirements to protect the wildlife around the mines, as per NPR.
Fortunately, over the years, diamond mining has spread to other parts of Canada, including Quebec and Saskatchewan.
Stornoway describes itself as a leading Canadian diamond exploration and development company, and its flagship asset is its 100-percent-owned Renard diamond project. The asset is located near the Otish Mountains in Quebec and is on track to become the province’s first diamond mine. The Renard kimberlite pipes were discovered in 2001 after five years of grassroots exploration in the area, according to Stornoway’s website.
The company intends to have first road access to the Renard project by the fourth quarter of 2013. Plant commissioning will then begin at the end of 2015, and commercial diamond production will ideally be achieved by June 2016.
Mountain Province Diamonds (NYSEMKT:MDM)
Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, this Canadian company works in diamond exploration and development. Its main asset is a joint venture with De Beers called the Gahcho Kué project. It is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and the companies believe it will be the world’s largest and richest new diamond mine.
The Gahcho Kué property has diamond reserves of 49 million carats, according to recent technical reports. Its potential production rate is 4.5 million carats per year over an 11-year lifespan if open-pit mining is used.
Peregrine Diamonds (TSX:PGD)
Also a diamond exploration and development company, Peregrine Diamonds’ focus is on Northern Canada. In 2007 and 2008, the company discovered two new diamond districts, Nanuq and Chidliak, respectively, in Nunavut. One of its primary assets is its 72-percent-owned kimberlite project, located in the Northwest Territories. Peregrine’s website notes that the property has a mineral resource of 18.2 million carats of diamonds in 19.5 million tonnes of kimberlite at a grade of 0.94 carats per tonne.
At the company’s 100-percent owned Chidliak project, 61 kimberlites have been discovered so far. Exploration of the asset is still underway.
Shore Gold (TSX:SGF)
This Canadian natural resource company focuses on the exploration and development of diamond resources in Saskatchewan. Currently, its main projects are the FALC joint venture and the Star diamond project. At FALC, exploration has already identified over 70 kimberlites, with macro diamonds — diamonds that cannot pass through 0.5-millimeter square mesh — recovered from 34 of them.
The Star diamond property consists of 23 contiguous mineral dispositions across nearly 23,000 acres, according to Shore’s website. An advanced evaluation program and prefeasibility study show diamond recovery of 10,582.67 carats.
One province over, Grizzly Discoveries’ Buffalo Head Hills property, located in Alberta, covers more than 600,000 acres on which 41 kimberlite pipes have been discovered to date — 29 are diamondiferous and seven are 100-percent owned by Grizzly.
In 2008, the company unearthed three new diamond-bearing kimberlites following the completion of 12 drill holes. Two of the kimberlite pipes look “very promising,” according to the company’s website. Bulk sampling is planned for the future.
Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO,ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO)
A leading global mining and metals company, Rio Tinto has assets around the world. The company operates in more than 40 countries across six continents, its website notes. Its Diamonds & Minerals group works on mining, refining and marketing operations.
In Canada, Rio Tinto has a stake in one major diamond property. The Diavik diamond mine is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, not far from the Arctic Circle, and Rio Tinto has a 60-percent interest in it. The company’s subsidiary, Diavik Diamond Mines, shares the joint venture with Dominion Diamond Diavik Limited Partnership.
The mine transitioned to being fully underground in 2012, and its lifespan is expected to run to 2025 at the latest.
Dominion Diamond (NYSE:DDC)
In April 2013, BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) completed the sale of its diamond business to Canadian diamond mining company Dominion Diamond (formerly Harry Winston Diamond Corporation), which, according to its website, it is the largest publicly listed diamond mining pure play by market capitalization. It has interests in two major diamond mines that are in the production stage and are located near the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories.
One asset is Dominion Diamond’s 80-percent-owned Ekati diamond mine and the other is the Diavik mine it shares with Rio Tinto.
North Arrow is focused on identifying and evaluating diamond opportunities in Canada, its website notes, with its key projects including the Lac de Gras and Redemption joint ventures, both located near the Ekati and Diavik mines. It is also focused on its Pikoo, Qilalugaq and Timiskaming projects, which are under option from Stornoway Diamond.
Most recently, the company acquired the Nunavut-based Mel and Luxx diamond projects and closed a $5.3-million private placement financing.
Editorial Disclosure: Stornoway Diamond, Grizzly Discoveries and North Arrow Minerals are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.