Dominion Diamond to go ahead with Ekati mine expansion

Canada’s Dominion Diamond (TSX, NYSE:DDC) has decided to proceed with a key expansion for its Northwest Territories-based Ekati mine, which would help keep the iconic operation in production until 2033.

The decision of moving forward with the development of the Jay pipe, located near Ekati’s existing Misery pit, was based on positive feasibility study results, the company said in a statement.

Dominion also expects to begin construction of a fourth pipe at its 40%-owned Diavik mine, Canada’s largest diamond mine and one of the oldest.

The project, which includes building a dyke, draining part of a lake and digging an open pit, will be funded from existing cash and internal cash flow, Dominion said. Without the expansion, Ekati would have run out of its existing reserves by 2020.

In a separate statement, the company said it would focus on developing its core assets in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories and on buying back shares. As part of the plan, Dominion also expects to begin construction of a fourth pipe at its Diavik mine, Canada’s largest diamond mine and one of the oldest, which it co-owns with Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO).

Additionally, the firm announced that chief financial officer Ron Cameron would step down on July 15 and vice president Group Controller Cara Allaway would take over as interim CFO.

Dominion is also selling its office building in downtown Toronto. That transaction, said the diamond miner, should be completed in the third quarter of fiscal year 2017.

The company is still assessing damage after a fire halted processing operations at Ekati on June. It is believed that more than 300 employees and contract workers are at risk of being laid off as a result.