De Beers on Friday officially opened its first two mines outside of Africa—Snap Lake and Victor Mines in Canada—with a celebration that will last two days.
were launched by Nicky Oppenheimer, De Beers Group chairman, Jonathan Oppenheimer, De Beers Canada, chairman, Gareth Penny (De Beers Group managing director, and Jim Gowans, De Beers Canada president, at celebrations with employees and members of the local communities.
Together Snap Lake and Victor Mines are expected to produce two million carats per year.
“Never before have we opened two mines at the same time and never before have we opened a mine outside of Africa,” Nicky Oppenheimer said. “It is gratifying to see not only the contribution these mines will make to De Beers but the contribution they are already making to the communities in which they are based.”
Jim Gowans who is overseeing the development and launch of both mines added, “It has taken us several years and over $1 billion to build each mine. We have also built strong relationships with local communities, and upheld the highest environmental standards. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The Snap Lake Mine located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It is the country’s first fully underground diamond mine, De Beers said. It will employee 560 people during production and will have an annual production rate of 1.4 million carats. The mine life is expected to be close to 20 years.
The Victor Mine, located near Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, will be the province’s first diamond mine. It will employee 400 people during production and will have an annual production rate of 600,000 carats. Victor is one of 18 kimberlite pipes discovered on the property, 16 of which are diamondiferous. The Victor kimberlite has a surface area of 15 hectares and consists of two pipes that coalesce at the surface: Victor Main and Victor Southwest. The mine will be open-pit with an expected life of 12 years and a total project life of 17 years.
De Beers notes that more than C$650 million has been spent with Aboriginal businesses.
In addition, agreements have been reached with the Governments of the Northwest Territories and Ontario for De Beers to make available for sale ten percent of diamonds from the Snap Lake Mine and Victor Mines, by value, to provincially approved manufacturers who have successfully fulfilled the Diamond Trading Company’s client selection criteria.