Development of the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada’s Arctic region is about 80 percent complete and is expected to begin producing gems by the second half of 2016, according to Mountain Province Diamonds, which owns a 49 percent stake in what will be the world’s largest diamond mine.
“We continue to make excellent progress at Gahcho Kué. Key areas of focus over the next six months are commissioning of the primary crusher and diamond plant, as well as preparation for operational readiness,” Patrick Evans, Mountain Province president and CEO, said in a statement.
News of the mine’s progress comes on the heels of news that DeBeers will be shutting down its Snap Lake diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Situated almost 300 km east of Yellowknife and southeast of the now closed Snap Lake diamond mine, Gahcho Kué is also ready to take in part of the hundreds of workers laid off at Snap Lake, Mining.com reported.
Mountain Province said that 41 of those employees have already been transferred to the new mine, and that a further 60 will be brought in next year as the mine prepares for production.
The majority of the closing mine’s workforce, which numbered about 800 people, are however losing their jobs.
De Beers and Mountain Province have said that almost 700 workers will be needed during the construction period of Gahcho Kué , with at least 400 to be employed during its estimated 11 years of operations. The mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats annually.
But what makes the mine especially important is the fact that two of Canada's major diamond mines — Diavik and Ekati — are approaching the end of their productive lives, and Gahcho Kué would be able to offset the production drop-off.
Snap Lake accounted for 1.2-million carats of De Beers’ output of 1.8-million carats from two operational mines in Canada last year.
The mine had a difficult year, with output falling 100,000 carats because of flooding and revised underground support standards. In fact, the operation never made a profit in the seven years it remained up and running.