20 years of diamonds yield a lot of brilliance at the Ekati Mine

Dominion Diamond Mines celebrates 20 years of production at its Ekati Mine

Representatives from Northern communities, government, the union, employees and contractors, and business associations gathered at the 20th Anniversary of the Ekati Mine.

Representatives from Northern communities, government, the union, employees and contractors, and business associations gathered at the 20th Anniversary of the Ekati Mine. — Photo courtesy Dominion Diamonds

Canada’s Northwest Territories is not only beautiful but rich in valuable minerals. The frozen landscape has been of interest to adventurers for years. In more recent times, explorers and miners have turned their attention to what lies under the permafrost. For Dominion Diamond Mines, that means diamonds.

The Ekati Mine is 100 per cent owned by Dominion Diamonds. The mine is situated 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories. The remote location is only accessible by land for two months of the year when the 460-kilometre ice road opens. Otherwise, air travel is the only option.

Dominion Diamonds values this beautiful location, taking utmost care to operate efficiently and to minimize impact on the environment. Some initiatives include its award-winning organic waste management system, recycling program and wildlife preservation programs—both those on land and in the surrounding water.

The history of the Ekati Mine

In the early 1980s, Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson followed indicator minerals to the Lac de Gras area. It wasn’t until 1991 that a diamond-bearing kimberlite was discovered at Point Lake. Additional kimberlite pipes were discovered, with the highest value pipes selected for further study.

Aber Resources Limited, the predecessor of Dominion Diamond Mines, was formed in 1994. That same year, the Diavik Diamond Mine’s first kimberlites were also discovered (beginning production in 2003). Two years later, construction began at the Ekati Diamond Mine. This mine became Canada’s first diamond mine, opening in October of 1998. Twenty years later, Dominion Diamonds celebrates the mine’s success.

Feeding the fire ceremony during the 20th Anniversary at the Ekati Mine.

Feeding the fire ceremony during the 20th Anniversary at the Ekati Mine. — Photo courtesy Dominion Diamonds

The Ekati Mine’s diamonds

Six open pits and three underground operations have been the focus over the years. The mine is currently expected to operate until 2034, although that lifespan may increase with current ongoing exploration.

Canada’s first diamond mine has been busy over the past 20 years. The Ekati Mine has produced over 80 million carats and processed 80 million tonnes of ore. Ekati Mine diamonds are known for their stark white, vibrant yellow and amber stones—features that are referred to as quality and colour when consumers shop for finished diamond jewelry.

Celebrating the Ekati Mine

Dominion Diamonds celebrated the Ekati Mine’s 20th anniversary on August 9 at the mine site. Nearly 100 guests attended, including representatives from northern communities, government, the union, employees and contractors, and business associations. Even the early diamond discoverers attended to see how the mine has grown.

CEO Patrick Evans at the 20th Anniversary dinner in Yellowknife.

CEO Patrick Evans at the 20th Anniversary dinner in Yellowknife. — Photo courtesy Dominion Diamonds

Dominion Diamonds has always respected and included the local communities who are neighbours to the Ekati Mine. The company hires its workforce from all over Canada but also draws from its northern counterparts. It also regularly contributes to northern communities in the form of scholarships and donations. This connection with the community continued through the celebration ceremony.

Everyone enjoyed the celebration that included a traditional Feeding the Fire ceremony, Inuit throat singers, Tlicho drummers, traditional hand games, Inuit drumming, Metis fiddlers and dancers, and dinner in the evening.

Dominion Diamonds is thrilled for the next chapter of the Ekati Mine, especially for the possibility of an extended lifespan.

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