For the last decade, the top two diamond producing countries in the world have been Russia and Botswana. Following these two leaders is Canada, a surprising addition to the list of countries that produce rough diamonds, which are generally traced back to the African continent as evinced by the rest of the names in the list. These are Angola, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia. In combination with the other three, they have been consistently furbishing over one million carats per year, providing for the majority of the rare stones circulating in the diamond industry today.
The high volume of diamonds originating from this country is desired my new age socially aware consumers. This is because Canadian diamonds are not sourced amid humanitarian conflict zones, neither is it known to fund such civil violence. Platforms such as blockchain diamond consortiums are dedicated to provenance tracking, and are being resorted to by diamond industry players in Canada.
History of Diamond Mines in Canada
Geologists long suspected the Canadian Shield to be a potential rich repository of organically formed diamonds, but evidence of this was not found until the 1990s. In 1991, two geologists, Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson, initiated a fact-backed quest to locate diamond-bearing Kimberlite pipes about 200 miles north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Four such deposits were determined and proved to be commercial, and resulted in the establishment of the Diavik mine in the mid-1990s. Mining at the site began in 1998. A few other mines followed suit in rapid succession, making Canada one of the world’s leading diamond producers
The Diavik Mine
The Diavik diamond mine began producing diamonds in 2003, operating under Diavik Diamond Mines (2012) Inc., which is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, itself a highly regarded diamond mining company. The total weight of rough diamonds excavated there makes it the largest mine in Canada in terms of carat production. The mine is also extremely valuable as most of its finds meet high-quality grades desired in the market. Rio Tinto operates the mine under the joint arrangement and Dominion Diamond pays 40% of the operating and capital costs while taking home the same percentage of the mine’s diamond production.
Of the four diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes being mined currently, three are of very high grade, and the fourth is under development with the end of 2018 expected to see its first production. At the end of 2014, the mining company stated to possess 39.6 million carats of proven reserves and 13.7 million carats of probable reserves. The mine is expected to be excavated for the precious stones till 2023.
The Ekati Diamond Mine
Located 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife, Canada’s first surface and underground mine is owned and operated by Dominion Diamond Corp. it started production in 1998 after nearly two decades of exploration and development. Operations in this group of mines in the initial years centered around six open pits and two underground sites. Currently, the five Kimberlite pipes that are being explored are namely Misery, Pigeon, Lynx and Jay, and Koala. All of these except the last one are open pits. Presently, the life of the Ekati mines is likely to end in 2020, unless the most potent of its undeveloped deposit – Jay – lives of its expectation and extends it by a speculated ten to eleven more years.
This mine is the second one owned by De Beers in Canada and the first diamond mine in Ontario. It is one of the eighteen Kimberlite pipelines discovered in the region, and its production started in 2008. The Victor mine created 3200 jobs when its constructions began in 2006 and laid the foundation for 400 more permanent ones with the start of its operations.
The open-pit mine deploys heavy-weight equipment such as 100-tonne trucks, large front-end loaders, and bulldozers for its mining operation. The annual production rate is 2.7 million tonnes, which translates to 600,000 carats a year in diamond grade.
The Snap Lake Mine
The Snap Lake Mine is not only Canada’s first completely underground mine but also the first holding by De Beers outside of the African continent. The lifetime of the mine is estimated to be about 15 years.
However, De Beers closed production at this mine at the end of 2015, citing a drop in the market price of diamonds.
Gahcho Kué is the biggest of the new diamonds mines to have been discovered in over a decade in the world. Its first pipe was located by Mountain Province in 1995. Owned by De Beers, the aim is to extract more than 12,000 carats a day.
Production at Gahcho Kué was the driving factor behind Anglo American’s 5% increase in output for 2017. De Beers is Anglo American’s diamond business, and it reported a 22% increase in volumes to 33.5m carats since Gahcho Kué became active. However, this mine is speculated to be closed in 2030 after maximum diamonds have been extracted from its reserves.
Scope for Blockchain Diamond Consortium in Canada
Gahcho Kué marks the last of the big diamond mines to be found, as announced by De Beers. While a lot of new diamonds will make it to the market in the next couple of years, the demand for the precious stones will fall after that. This makes it extremely important during this period of high demand to track the diamonds in the supply chain and ensure the goods journey through its intended stops only.
Diamond Consortia have recognized this necessity and are actively looking to incorporate reliable systems to bring in greater accountability in the diamond industry. Diamante Blockchain Consortium, for example, enables its consortium members to track every transaction taking place in its blockchain network.
Blockchain diamond consortiums include the participation of related industries which supply heavy machinery necessary for mining, transporting, and packaging the excavated stones. Blockchain diamond consortiums are also incorporated to securely store details of partnerships and joint ventures, and the ensuing monetary transactions adhering to agreements.
A blockchain ledger is decentralized and immutable, and has unlimited storage capacity. This technological innovation is drawing in diamond companies including cutters, polishers, certifiers, and jewelers. Diamond cutters, polishers, certifiers and jewelers can register in those consortiums for various opportunities. Ever since the emergence of Canada as one of the largest diamond producing countries, the demand for high-tech provisions such as blockchain diamond consortiums and jewelry consortiums is on the rise in the North American country.