Canada’s diamond industry icon sells last stake in Ekati mine

Canada’s diamond industry icon sells last stake in Ekati mine

Ekati mine aerial view, August 2010.

Charles “Chuck” Fipke, the man who started Canada’s arctic diamond rush in the 1990s by discovering the Ekati mine, is selling his remaining 10% interest in the Arctic mine for US$67 million, to Dominion Diamond (TSX, NYSE:DDC).

While the sale ends Fipke’s financial involvement with Canada's first diamond mine, his contribution to its discovery and success goes well beyond that, the chairman and CEO of Dominion Diamond said in a statement.

Canada’s diamond industry icon sells last stake in Ekati mine

Charles Fipke in 2006, when he donated $6 million to establish a new centre of research at UBC Okanagan.

The diamond mining legend focused his life’s work on finding precious gems in Canada’s far north.

A joint venture between Fipke's Dia Met Minerals and BHP Utah in the 1980s and 1990s, led to starting Ekati mine in 1998, with Fipke and prospecting partner Stewart Blusson each holding a 10% interest in the operation.

Dominion Diamond, formerly known as Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, acquired Ekati in April last year, after reaching an agreement with BHP Billiton in November of 2012 to purchase all of BHP Billiton’s Canadian assets. Among these there was a controlling interest in the diamond mine, located in the Lac de Gras region of Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Ekati generates about 3% of the world’s current rough diamond production by weight and 5% by value.

Top image by Jason Pineau, WikiMedia Commons.