By Ellsworth Dickson
Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. [MPV-TSX; MDM-NASDAQ], 49%, and joint venture partner De Beers Canada Inc., operator and 51% owner, held the grand opening of their Gahcho Kué diamond mine on September 20, 2016, the world’s largest and richest new diamond mine.
Located about 280 km northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the mine is believed to be among the 10 biggest diamond mines in the world. With a mine life expected to be about 12 years, some $6.7 billion will benefit the Canadian economy. An additional resource of 20 million carats is expected to extend the mine life to beyond 17 years. The potential for defining substantially more diamond resources could extend the mine life beyond 20 years through the Tuzo Deep drill program, where drilling has defined kimberlite to below 740 metres. There are several diamoniferous kimberlite pipes on the property.
De Beers has already invested about $1 billion in the project which employs 530 workers during commercial operations in two-week cycles. Commercial-level production is anticipated to be achieved in the first quarter of 2017.
Construction of the mine began in December 2013 with ore mining commencing in March 2016 and actual diamond production in June 2016.
Mine production is forecast to be approximately 4.5 million carats per year. The present open pit has some 61 million carats of diamonds down to 350 metres. Total probable reserves stand at 35.4 million tonnes grading 1.57 carats/tonne, for 55.5 million carats. A 2014 Feasibility Study noted that operating costs would be US $65/tonne with an Internal Rate of Return of 32.6%.