First Quebec diamond mine opens 

Good news for mining in Quebec, the majority French-speaking Canadian province, has come from Stornoway Diamond Corporation (TSX:SWY), which officially opened its Renard diamond mine last week.

While ore has been flowing through the mill since mid-July, last Thursday was an occasion for the company to host a ceremony attended by dignitaries, including Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s minister of energy and natural resources and minister responsible for Plan Nord – a plan to revitalize northern Quebec's industry and infrastructure.

“Today’s opening ceremony marks the culmination of approximately 20 years of work to bring the Renard Project from a green-field exploration concept to a fully operating new diamond mine.”

Also in attendance were Jean Boucher, member of the Quebec National Assembly for Ungava, the chief of the Cree Nation of Mistissini, Manon Cyr, mayor of Chibougamau and Chapais mayor Steve Gamache. The mine is located approximately 250 km north of the Cree community of Mistissini and 350 km north of Chibougamau in the James Bay region of north-central Québec.

“Today’s opening ceremony marks the culmination of approximately 20 years of work to bring the Renard Project from a green-field exploration concept to a fully operating new diamond mine. A long list of individuals can claim a share in the success of this enterprise. While we celebrate the official opening ceremony today, our production ramp-up continues and we remain on schedule to achieve commercial production by the year end,” said Stornoway Diamond president and CEO Matt Manson.

The mine near the Otish Mountains is expected to yield 1.8 million carats per annum for the first 10 years of mining, out of a 14-year minelife. Probable mineral reserves stand at 22.3 million carats, out of total indicated resources of 30.2 million carats and 13.35 million carats inferred.

Mine construction started on July 10, 2014, two days after Stornoway completed a $946 million transaction to fund the project to production. Funding was provided by Orion Mine Finance, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities.

Stornoway's stock bounced to $1.28 a share on Friday, for a 52-week high, before settling at $1.26 for a 7.69% gain at the close of trading in Toronto. The company is currently valued at just over $1 billion.

Renard is the second new Canadian diamond mine to open in recent weeks. On Sept. 21 Gahcho Kué, a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%), formally began operations near the Arctic Circle in the country's remote far north.

The mine at Kennady Lake is estimated to be one of the world’s 10 biggest diamond mines, and is the sixth precious rocks operation opened in Canada in the 18 years that Canada has mined diamonds.