TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Canada has two diamond projects that are expected to start first production during the current quarter, with De Beers Canada’s Gahcho Kué project, in the Northwest Territories, making commissioning progress and Stornoway Diamond Corp starting with ore processing at the Renard project, in Quebec.
TSX-listed Stornoway on Friday announced that it had started the processing ramp-up to 2.16-million tonnes, within nine months, at 78% plant utilisation, ahead of schedule.
The operation, Quebec’s only diamond mine, would achieve commercial production, maintaining ore processing, for 30 days, at 60% nameplate capacity.
As of July 13, one-million tonnes of ore had been stockpiled, enough to start and maintain the planned ramp-up, the company advised. Initial production was based on ore sourced directly from the Renard 2/Renard 3 openpit and supplemented from the stockpile as required.
“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,” stated president and CEO Matt Manson on Friday.
He noted that the company’s focus now turned to the efficient ramp-up of the process plant and the reconciliation of its principal mineral resource and mine operating parameters.
The Renard kimberlites were discovered 15 years ago this September by Ashton Mining and Soquem.
Stornoway’s TSX-listed stock had gained more than 8% in the past five days, to change hands at C$1.04 apiece on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Gahcho Kué Joint Venture, a collaboration between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%), continued to progress well, with key remaining areas of focus including finalising the commissioning of the process plant, remaining earthworks, the prestripping and mining of kimberlite, as well as preparations for operational readiness.
The Gahcho Kué diamond mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5-million carats a year over a 12-year mine life.