De Beers has opened the Gahcho Kué diamond mine 280km north-east of Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories (NWT).
Comprising three open-pits, the mine is a joint venture between De Beers Group of Companies (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%).
Gahcho Kué is a fly-in/fly-out remote mine site and expected to produce approximately 54 million carats of rough diamonds from around 35 million tonnes of ore over its lifetime.
The mine is expected to reach full commercial operation in the first quarter of 2017.
De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said: “As millions of new consumers enter the middle classes in the coming years, consumer demand for diamond jewellery is set to see continued medium to long term growth.
“Allied to our major investments in production capacity expansion in the southern African region, the opening of Gahcho Kué positions De Beers and its partners strongly to capitalise on the industry’s positive demand outlook.”
A recent socio-economic impact study conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) for the De Beers Group of Companies has revealed that the mine is expected to provide a C$6.7bn ($5.1bn) boost to the Canadian economy.
The report found that the mine has already provided a C$440m ($341m) boost to the NWT region between 2006 and 2015.
More than 90% of Gahcho Kué’s economic impact is expected to be delivered once the mine becomes fully operational.
Last year, the mine supported more than 2,700 jobs.
Mountain Province Diamonds CEO Patrick Evans said: “Today marks the culmination of more than 21 years of commitment and support from our shareholders, without which today would not have been possible.”
Image: Gahcho Kué is projected to produce around 54 million carats of diamonds during its operation life. Photo: courtesy of De Beers UK Limited.