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The King in the North: The Story of Canadian Diamonds

While the history of diamond mining can be traced back as early as the fourth century BC, Canada is considered the new kid on the block when it comes to diamond production. Diamonds were discovered in Canada in the 1990s, and it has since become one of the top five producers of diamonds in the world. According to recent KP numbers, Canada has produced more than 12 million carats in 2014 at a value exceeding $2 billion.

The most productive mine in Canada is Diavik. In May 2016, Rio Tinto announced that it has completed a major milestone in its operations at the mine: the production of 100 million carats of rough diamonds since Diavik began operations in 2003.

The Ekati diamond mine – located some 100 kilometers south of the North Pole – is the country’s first mine. Ekati began operations in 1998, and its annual sales amount to 3% in weight and 6% in value of the overall global annual sales of rough diamonds.

Located 220 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife, Snap Lake is Canada’s first completely underground diamond mine. Owned by De Beers, the mine began production in January 2008, and its annual carat production capacity is 1.4 million carats. The Victor mine, an open-pit mine located in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario, is De Beers’ second mine in Canada. The area is composed of 18 kimberlite pipes of the Attawapiskat kimberlite field, 16 of which are diamondiferous.

Last but not least is the Jericho mine. It is now dormant, but between 2006 and 2008, Jericho produced 780,000 carats from 1,200,000 tonnes of kimberlite mined from the open pit operation.

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