For centuries, diamonds have been a symbol of wealth, romance, and status. As a rare and heavily sought-after commodity, they have become important to the northern Canadian economy, as well as to the other major producing countries Botswana, Russia, Angola and South Africa.
Historically, Canada had trailed behind the other countries for diamond mining. Though by 2006, Canada was the third largest diamond producer in the world, known for its ethically sourced and high-quality stones.
As of 2019, the Canadian diamond mining industry thrived, accounting for 12.5 per cent of diamond production in the world and Canadian exports totaling $2.21 billion, according to the Government of Canada. Production came from 3 mines in the NWT, one in Quebec and one in Ontario, however 3 of the 5 mines are at or near the end of their operations as the ore bodies are mined out.
Kimberlite, the volcanic host rock of diamond, have been found in large numbers in the Canadian Shield regions of the country, and exploration for more continues. Though incredibly rare, these kimberlites are the dominant source of diamonds in the world.
“About 6,400 kimberlite pipes have been discovered in the world, of those about 900 have been classified as diamondiferous, and of those just over 30 have been economic enough to mine,” according to Geology Science. Canada’s Ekati and Diavik mines in the NWT are nearing the end of their producing lives, the Victor mine in Ontario has closed, leaving only the Gahcho Kue (NWT) and Renard mines (Quebec) in operation. Major mining companies De Beers and Rio Tinto, as well as mid-tier companies like Mountain Province (MPVD-TSX) are in need of new projects to continue their businesses in Canada, and help meet the coming supply deficit.
Although lavish consumption for jewelry is a major end-use for the profitable diamond market, the majority of mined diamonds are used industrially. Upwards of 80 per cent of diamonds mined are utilized as abrasives, in optical devices, for heat dissipation, and for high pressure synthesis. As the end-use consumption of diamonds benefits multiple sectors, diamond mining and exploration is an important industry..
Churchill’s White River Project in the Hemlo Area, ON., and Pelly Bay Project in Nunavut are potentially important projects to help resupply and sustain the Canadian diamond industry.
Exploration at these sites pose local opportunities for employment, environmental awareness, and economic reward:
Canadian diamond mines in remote locations have allowed for steady employment, economic partnerships with First Nations and stakeholders, while domestic laws ensure a safe-guarded environment for wildlife and conservation.
From the inception of the mining process to fine-jewelry and industrial uses, the Canadian diamond industry remains economically, ethically, and socially important.