Mountain Province Diamonds’ Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories is preparing to welcome employees from De Beers Canada’s closed Snap Lake mining operation.

Gahcho Kué diamond mine is now more than 80% complete, with first production expected during the second half of 2016.

De Beers suspended operations at the Snap Lake mine and has already transferred 41 employees to the Gahcho Kué diamond mine.

Mountain Province will receive another 60 employees in 2016 as the mine prepares for production.

The company is a 49% participant with De Beers in the Gahcho Kué diamond mine, which is progressing according to plan and budget.

"During 2015, a total of $158m has been drawn against the $370m facility."

Mountain Province Diamonds president and CEO Patrick Evans said: "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.

"During 2015, a total of $158m has been drawn against the $370m facility. Mountain Province is fully funded to commercial production and also has a $75m cost overrun facility in place."

De Beers Canada CEO Kim Truter said: "The regrettable decision relating to Snap Lake will have no impact on plans for the Gahcho Kué mine."

The Gahcho Kué project comprises a cluster of four diamondiferous kimberlites. The mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats a year over a 12 year mine life.

Image: De Beers’ Snap Lake mine is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Photo: courtesy of De Beers UK Limited.