Stornoway Diamond has started ore processing at the Renard diamond project in north-central Québec.

The latest development marks the beginning of a processing ramp-up, which has been planned to achieve 100% of plant design capacity within a period of nine months.

The company said that 1,002,888t of ore had been stockpiled as of 13 July this year, which is enough to commence and maintain the planned ramp-up.

Initial production from the mine is based on ore sourced directly from the Renard 2-Renard 3 open pit.

Stornoway Diamond president and CEO Matt Manson said: “The commencement of diamond production at Renard comes exactly two years and five days since we broke ground for mine construction.

“Our project execution continues to track several weeks ahead of our (already) re-baselined schedule and well within our capital budget. Our focus now turns to the efficient ramping-up of the process plant and the reconciliation of our principal Mineral Resource and mine operating parameters.”

"Our focus now turns to the efficient ramping-up of the process plant."

In July 2014, Stornoway completed a $946m financing transaction to fund the Renard diamond project completely up to production, with construction then starting and ore being processed.

The company released results of an optimised feasibility study at Renard in January 2013, which highlighted the project's potential to become a significant producer of high-value rough diamonds over an initial mine life of 14 years.

Average annual diamond production at the mine is anticipated at 1.8 million carats per annum over the first ten years of mining.

The Renard diamond project is located about 250km north of the Cree community of Mistissini and 350km north of Chibougamau in the James Bay region of north-central Québec.

Image: Stornoway’s Renard diamond project in north-central Québec. Photo: courtesy of Stornoway Diamond Corporation.