Production at giant Arctic diamond mine months away

Gahcho Kué, the largest new diamond mine under development globally, is now 87% complete with production planned for the second half of this year, Mountain Province Diamonds (TSX:MPV) announced on Monday.

Mountain Province President and CEO Patrick Evans, said the company "continues to make excellent progress" at Gahcho Kué, located in the Northwest Territories of the Canadian Arctic: "Key areas of focus are remaining earthworks, commissioning of the primary crusher and diamond plant, pre-stripping and stockpiling of kimberlite as well as preparations for operational readiness."

Production at the $1.1 billion project should start up less than a year after the closure of the nearby Snap Lake mine.

As the operations approach commissioning, the Gahcho Kué JV has made nine senior operational appointments, including De Beers veteran Allan Rodel as the mine general manager and several managers across various facets of the operation: mining, engineering and maintenance, ore processing and technical services.

Mountain Province also announced ice road deliveries to Gahcho Kue are proceeding to plan and "delivery of critical large mining equipment to site was completed last week with the bulk of the remaining deliveries being diesel fuel."

Gahcho Kué situated almost 300 kilometres east of Yellowknife at Kennady Lake is a joint venture with Anglo American's De Beers diamond organization. Production at the $1.1 billion project should take place less than a year after the closure of De Beers' nearby Snap Lake mine. Snap Lake which started operations in 2008 was the firm's first diamond mine outside of Africa, and Canada’s first primary underground diamond mine.

The mine will employ at least 400 workers over its estimated 12 years of operations, with some staff transferring from Snap Lake. The mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats annually, making it the world’s largest new diamond mine.