The economy of the Northwest Territories (NWT) is inextricably linked to mining. Base and precious metals formed, until recently, the mainstay of the NWT mining industry. However, in recent years the focus has shifted to diamonds.
In 1900, J.M. Bell and Charles Camsell of the Geological Survey of Canada journeyed down the Mackenzie River, up the Bear River and into Great Bear Lake. They recorded their observations of the area thus: “in the greenstones with numerous interrupted stringers of calcite containing chalcopyrite and the steep rocky shores where they present themselves to the lake are often stained with cobalt bloom and copper”.
However, it was not until 1929 when Gilbert Labine read Bell's notes that the potential for mineralisation became clear. Labine immediately flew to the east shore of Great Bear Lake approximately 40km south of the Arctic Circle and staked the first four claims of what would become the Eldorado uranium mine.
By 1932, the town of Great Bear, later renamed Port Radium, consisted of the partially constructed Eldorado mine, a sawmill, electric power plant, general store, post office, two radio stations, an RCMP post and a mining recorder’s office. The town’s population stood at 200. By the end of 1932, between 2,500 and 3,000 claims were recorded in the area.
Eldorado mines, the first modern mining operation in the NWT, began production in December 1933. The mine first produced radium and uranium, and subsequently silver. The mill operated at a capacity of 50 tons per day (tpd) up until 1940 after which throughput was increased to 125 tpd. The mine became a crown company in 1944. In 1950, the mill capacity was increased to170 tpd. A fire halted production in 1951. However, the mill was re-built in 1952 with the capacity increased to 300 tpd. With the development of other uranium sources in Canada, the mine was no longer profitable and was closed in September 1960.
The Echo Bay Group of claims, situated approximately 2km east of Port Radium, were originally staked in 1930 for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada. Some diamond drilling was done in 1932 and two parallel adits were developed in 1934. In 1963, Northwest Explorers optioned the property and drilled eleven holes. Echo Bay Mines was subsequently incorporated and acquired the mining lease. Production of silver and copper began in 1964. The ore was milled initially using the infrastructure from the old Eldorado Mine, 1.6 kilometres to the southwest. In 1966 Echo Bay Mines bought the mill and surface plants from Eldorado Mining and Smelting. By 1972, the mine had six levels and the mill was operating at 90 tonnes per day. During 1971 and 1972 the average ore grade was 2,331 g/t Ag and 0.92% Cu. In 1974, Echo Bay Mines Ltd. reached an agreement with Eldorado Mining and Smelting to exploit the silver ore from the Eldorado Mine. Eldorado was subsequently re-opened as a silver mine in 1976 and operated by Echo Bay Mines until 1982.
The Echo Bay Mine produced 383,409 tonnes of ore from which 792,888 kg of silver and 4,935 tonnes of copper were recovered. The last reported production from the mine was in 1981.
In 1898, B.A. Blakeney, a prospector on his way to the Klondike, staked the first claim in the Yellowknife area. It assayed at 2,158 ounces per ton (oz/t) gold. A sample from another claim in the same area indicated a silver count of 38.86 oz/t.
In 1905, J. Mackintosh Bell of the GSC made the first mineral survey of the north shore of Great Slave Lake. His work indicated that the area was favourable for gold mineralisation. In July 1929, Stan McMillan flew Donavan Clark and his party (Dominion Explorers) into the east shore of Yellowknife Bay. Their plan was to fly up the Yellowknife River to Snare Lake and prospect back by canoe. When Clark and his party returned to the Yellowknife area they prospected over the site of the future Con Mine.
In July 1933 two prospectors, Johnny Baker and Herb Dixon, left Great Bear Lake and were flown to the Coppermine River. They made their way upstream by canoe and crossed over land to the Yellowknife River. They then paddled and prospected down the river to Quyta Lake where they discovered free gold. In 1934, Baker found more gold on the east side of Yellowknife Bay. Subsequently a subsidiary company, Burwash Yellowknife Gold Mines Ltd, was formed to develop the RICH property.
In 1935, some 15 tons of ore grading around 12 oz/t gold was shipped from the Burwash mine south to Fort McMurray, then by rail to Trail, B.C. for refining. This was the first shipment of gold from the Yellowknife area.
Burwash Mine was short lived. It produced only 87 ounces of gold and closed in 1937.
In 1935, a Cominco field party staked the NERCO property following the discovery of gold by N. Jennejohn of the Geological Society of Canada. The C-1 Shaft was sunk on Vein-10, a small high-grade quartz vein in the hanging wall of the Con Shear and a 90 tonne per day mill was built. The mill was expanded to 136 tonnes per day and by 1940 gold was being mined from the Con Shear itself.
In 1946, a wide shear zone, the Campbell Shear, was discovered when the Con and Negus mines jointly drilled an exploration hole. The C-1 shaft was deepened and drifting. The sinking of the B-3 winze followed. By 1958, all the gold produced at Con Mine was from the Campbell Shear.
In 1974, the Robertson Shaft was sunk to 1,890 metres depth to access the lower levels of the mine. In December 1986, Nerco Minerals Corporation purchased the Con Mine and renamed it the NERCO Con Mine. By 1990, the main production shaft extended to a depth of 1,902 metres. The mine had 14 levels, 129 kilometres of underground workings and a workforce of 400.
Milling capacity was 1,043 tonnes per day. An autoclave to treat refractory ore from the upper levels of the Campbell shear zone, as well as arsenic sludge and calcine wastes, began operation in August of 1992. In 1993, Miramar Mining Corporation acquired the Con Mine. At that time Miramar controlled more than 64.7 square kilometres of exploration rights in the immediate vicinity of the mine. An exploration program was launched in 1994 to evaluate these areas.
In May 1998, the Con Mine was closed due to a labour dispute; operations resumed in July 1999. The Con Mine began processing ore from Giant Mine in 2000.
Prospectors C.J. Baker and H. Muir on behalf of Burwash Yellowknife Mines Ltd first staked the giant Mine property in 1935. As a result, Giant Yellowknife Gold Mines Limited was incorporated in 1937 and shortly thereafter acquired the Giant Claims. In 1938, D.W. Cameron discovered a gold bearing schist outcrop at the south end of the mine property now known as the DWC zone. Surface exploration continued until 1943 and a number of other mineralized zones were located. A.S. Dadson’s examination of the property in 1943 resulted in a surface diamond drill program. From 1944 to 1946, approximately 200 diamond drill holes were completed for a total of 25,580 metres. This program resulted in the location of the subsurface extensions of the zones previously mapped on surface. The original resource estimation from this drill program indicated 2,753,329 tonnes at a cut grade of 11.3 grams per tonne.
Development began in 1946 with the sinking of “A” shaft to a depth of 159 metres from surface. In 1948, “B” Shaft was completed to a depth of 238 metres and the mine went into full production. In 1951, “C” shaft was completed to a depth of 313.6 metres and later deepened to 466 metres in 1954 and to 609.6 metres in 1959. All shafts are connected at the 750 level.
During the first 15 years of the mine’s life, extensive exploration programs were carried out. The last major new ore zone to be discovered on the Giant mine property (the LAW) was discovered in 1962. By 1964, the Giant orebody was considered to have been totally delineated.
In November of 1985, Giant Mine poured its 10,000th gold brick. In 1986 Pamour Inc. acquired Falconbridge Ltd’s 19.2% share in Giant Yellowknife Mines Ltd. Pamour’s interest increased to 50.2% in January 1987 and then declined to 41.8% in September 1987. In April 1988, Giant Resources Ltd. bought the outstanding shares of Pamour Inc., thereby increasing its interest in Giant Yellowknife Mines Ltd. to 45%. In 1989, Giant Resources Ltd. announced that its Canadian assets were for sale and on November 2, 1990, Royal Oak Resources Ltd. acquired Giant Mine.
In 1995, production began from the Supercrest area adjacent to Giant Mine. The Supercrest added approximately seven to eight years mine-life to Giant. In April 1999, Royal Oak Mines Inc. went into receivership. Miramar Mining Corp., which operates the Con Mine, acquired Giant Mine in December 1999.
The Norma claims, located 75km east of Yellowknife, were staked in the summer of 1939. In 1945 Beaulieu Yellowknife Mines Ltd was formed to explore the property. The deposit was promoted as an economic entity and the Beaulieu mine began operating in October 23, 1947. However, it closed down a month later after 7.5 oz of gold had been recovered.
Beaulieu mine is an interesting example of one of the many properties that, during the heyday of the great gold fever in Yellowknife, were strenuously and often questionably promoted. Many of these properties, like the Beaulieu, had very little gold to show for all the activities hype.
“Canada's most northerly gold mine” is what the Tundra Gold Mine was called when it went into production in 1964. It was located 200 km northeast of Yellowknife. The mine was expected to generate annual revenues of around $1,400,000. However, the mine struggled for four years at a gold price of $35/oz. By the time the mine closed in 1968, the mill had processed approximately 185,000 tons of ore grading 0.54 oz gold/ton. Some 104,000 ounces of gold was recovered.
In the 1983, Giant mine opened the Salmita mine on Mathews Lake, near the old Tundra Mine. The mine produced approximately 175,000 ounces of gold and 12,000 ounces of silver over four years before closing.
The presence of gold in the Indin Lake area 220 km northwest of Yellowknife was known since 1938. However, the area was not fully explored until 1945, when Giant Yellowknife Mines discovered gold mineralisation as a result of diamond drilling. Further exploration during 1946 led to the discovery of an extensive zone of low-grade gold mineralisation. The property was not placed into production at that time, as low gold prices did not make operations economically feasible. In 1974, Cominco optioned the property, and an exploration drilling program was conducted at the site. Neptune Resources Corporation obtained an option on the property from Johnsby Mines Ltd in 1986 and exercised this option in 1988. Neptune conducted extensive feasibility studies during 1988, and planned development of the site in 1989. Production was achieved at Colomac in May, 1990. All operations were suspended in June, 1991 due to low gold prices, high fuel costs, mechanical problems at the mill, and Neptune’s inability to pay the interest on a $150 million loan.
In April, 1993, Royal Oak Mines Inc acquired Neptune Resources Corporation, and thereby the Colomac site and resumed production in May 1994.
Mining operations were discontinued in September 1997 after depletion of reserves. The mine was closed in December 1997 after processing stockpiled ore.
A.V. Giauque and sons first staked the Discovery property in 1944. Discovery Yellowknife Mines was formed in 1945, to explore the property. After extensive exploration in 1946, a shaft was sunk and in late 1949 a 90 tonne per day mill was installed. Discovery Mine operated between 1950 and 1969. Several auriferous quartz veins were mined up to the 1,200-metre level. A fire in 1969 prompted the mine closure.
Between March 1969 and 1980 there was no further work carried out. In December 1980 Newmont Exploration Ltd. optioned the property. They carried out ground geophysics, mapping and geochemical studies. During the summer of 1981 ground geophysical surveys (magnetic, VLFEM, HLEM) were carried out over a 60 line-km grid, and IP and resistivity surveys were performed over a more restricted area (covering the volcanic rocks). In 1987 Canamax Resources optioned the property and explored claims in the vicinity of Discovery Mine.
The property was allowed to lapse and was re-staked in 1992 by Gerry Hess. He formed New Discovery Mines Ltd. to develop the property. In 1994 the company drilled six holes totalling 915 metres. In 1995 GMD Resources Corporation entered into an agreement to earn in to the deposit. A decline was advanced approximately 100 metres in order to test the Ormsby Zone from underground. In 1996 approximately 100 diamond drill holes, totalling 22,769 m, tested the Ormsby and Discovery areas. A further 80,000 metres were drilled in 1997 and the data from these was used to calculate a new resource for the Ormsby Zone.
In 1929, Northern Lead Zinc Company, formed by Cominco Ltd. and Ventures Ltd. (predecessor to Falconbridge), began to explore the area on the south shore of Great Slave Lake for base metals. In 1951 Pine Point Mines Ltd was formed to further explore the area (Cominco held a 50% interest in Pine Point Mines Ltd).
By 1958, Cominco had identified Canada's richest known lead/zinc deposit. The Canadian Government built a railway from Roma, Alberta to Pine Point starting in 1962 and the town of Pine Point was built between 1963 and 1965.
Production from the Pine Point mine began in 1964, with the first rail shipment of concentrates taking place after the completion of the railway in early 1965. Pine Point operated until June 1987. Some 8.4 billion pounds of zinc and 2.6 billion pounds of lead were produced from 69 million tons of ore over the mine life. The town was officially closed on September 1, 1987. The site has since been reclaimed.
In 1928, shear zone-hosted zinc, lead and silver mineralisation was discovered at Prairie Creek, 170km west of Fort Simpson. However, very little exploration was done on the property until 1966, when Cadillac Explorations Ltd. explored the mineralized zones. Drilling was carried out in 1968 and 1969.
In 1970, the property was optioned to Penarroya Canada Ltd. They carried out extensive surface and underground exploration. Cadillac Explorations Ltd. terminated the option in late 1980. From 1970 to 1980, extensive underground exploration was carried out.
In 1980, the Hunt brothers agreed to finance the mine into production. A copper concentrator was purchased and brought to the site, and mine and milling facilities were constructed. In May 1982, when the mine facility was 90 to 95% complete, the price of silver collapsed and Cadillac Explorations was forced into bankruptcy. A total of $64,000,000 had been spent on the property up to that point.
The property was tied up in litigation resulting from the bankruptcy until 1990. In 1991, Conwest Exploration Ltd. acquired Prairie Creek, and granted an option to San Andreas Resources Corp. to earn a 60% interest in the property. During 1992, San Andreas Resources discovered stratiform-style mineralisation, which opened up the possibility of multiple exploration targets within the deposit. In 1992 and 1993, additional drilling took place and baseline environmental studies were initiated. During 1995, additional step-out holes extended the strike length of the known mineralized zones to 2.1 km. The orebody remains open at depth and along strike.
In 1996, San Andreas Resources negotiated an Impact Benefits Agreement (IBA) with the Nahanni Butte Dene Band. This was followed with a program of mine rehabilitation, re-sampling and resource estimation. In September of 1999, San Andreas Resources Corporation changed its name to Canadian Zinc Corporation.
Axel Berglund discovered and staked the CanTung deposit for Northwestern Explorations Ltd. in 1954 as a copper prospect. The property, located 360km west of Fort Simpson near the Yukon border, was mapped and sampled in 1955 and drilled by Kennecott Copper in 1956. It was found to be sub-economic in respect of copper and the claims were allowed to lapse.
Prospectors working for the “Mackenzie Syndicate” (Leitch, Highland Belt, Area Exploration Ltd., Dome Minerals Ltd., Ventures Ltd. and Lake Expanse Gold Minerals Ltd.) discovered scheelite while panning in the Flat River in the late 1950’s. In 1958, the Mackenzie Syndicate re-staked the property. The Canada Tungsten Mining Corporation Ltd (CanTung) was formed in 1959 to acquire and develop the property. CanTung drilled 11 holes in 1959 and 41 holes in 1960. Ore reserves of 1.08 million tonnes grading 2.47% WO3 and 0.45% Cu were defined.
Production commenced in November 1962 financed by Falconbridge, Amax and Dome. The Pit Zone was mined by open pit, and then subsequently by underground mining. Production was suspended during 1963-64 for a year due to low tungsten prices, and was interrupted in 1967 by a mill fire. In 1967, reserves were re-calculated to include only those mineable by open pit methods. Production from the pit continued until September 1973.
Deep drilling in 1971 discovered the “E Zone”. Surface and underground drilling in 1972 and 1973 identified mineable reserves in the zone. A decision was made to take only the higher-grade skarn ore from the open pit, then convert the mill to process E Zone ore. Milling of underground ore from E Zone began in June 1974.
In 1979, production was increased to approximately 900 tonnes per day following a mill expansion. Production was halted by a strike from November 1980 to May 1981, and for most of 1983 due to low tungsten prices. In August of 1986 operations were suspended indefinitely due to low tungsten prices.
Falconbridge sold its interest in the CanTung mine in 1966, followed by Dome in 1985. Also in 1985, Amax transferred all tungsten assets, including CanTung and the MacTung project at Macmillan Pass, to Canada Tungsten Inc. but retained majority control. Aur Resources Inc. optioned the property in 1995.
Canada Tungsten and Aur Resources merged in 1996. In 1997, North American Tungsten Corporation Ltd. purchased CanTung, together with the related assets of the former Canada Tungsten, from Aur Resources. The company re-opened the CanTung mine on December 1, 2001.
J. F. Allen first discovered scheelite showings at the MacTung site in 1962, while exploring for molybdenum. Southwest Potash Corp., a subsidiary of American Metal Climax Inc. (Amax), staked the area. Geology, prospecting and a ground magnetic survey were completed in 1962-63.
Between 1968 and 1973, 10,600m of diamond drilling was completed. The claims were transferred to Amax Exploration Limited, who became Amax Potash in 1971. In 1972, the claims were transferred to Amax Northwest.
In 1983, a preliminary project description and baseline environmental report was released to government. Because of the location of the MacTung orebody on the NWT/Yukon border, the report was released to the federal Department of Indian and Northern Development (DIAND) and both territorial governments.
It was proposed that a 900 tonne per day mine would be constructed between 1984 and 1986 with production estimated to begin in 1986. Concentrate would be trucked out along the North Canol Road to Ross River, Yukon Territory, and from there to the port at Skagway, Alaska. A combination of both open pit and underground mining was proposed, with potential expansion to 1,800 tonnes per day. Mine staff would be housed in a camp facility, and transported to site by air or bus. The dramatic drop in tungsten prices between 1984 and 1986 caused Amax to shelve these plans.
Aur Resources Inc. optioned the property in 1995, for re-evaluation. In 1997, North American Tungsten Corporation Limited purchased a number of tungsten assets from Aur Resources Inc., including the Mactung property.
The NWT was the site of small diamond exploration programs in the early 1970s. A cluster of kimberlite pipes were discovered in the High Arctic on Somerset Island by Cominco Ltd. and Diapros Ltd., but were found to be not economically viable.
In 1991, Dia Met Minerals Ltd. and BHP Minerals announced the discovery of major diamond bearing kimberlite pipes at Lac de Gras in the west-central NWT. This discovery resulted in the largest staking rush in Canadian history. Since then, several of the world’s largest mining companies, including BHP, RTZ and De Beers, have become actively involved in diamond exploration and mining in the NWT.
Over 20 diamond-bearing kimberlites with economic potential have been identified in the NWT. To date, more than 300 kimberlite pipes have been found in the territory.
From 1982 to 1990, geologist Charles Fipke and the company he founded Dia Met Minerals, traced kimberlite indicator minerals from the Mackenzie Mountains back to their source in the Lac De Gras area. In 1991, BHP Minerals entered into a joint venture with Dia Met Minerals when diamonds were discovered in the vicinity of Lac De Gras at a small previously un-named lake, Point Lake. The Point Lake kimberlite pipe was the first of over 100 pipes discovered on the Ekati property.
During 1992 the Koala pipe was discovered on the property. Between June 1993 and May 1994, 11,512 line-km of airborne geophysics was flown and over 4000 heavy mineral samples were analysed. Eight holes totalling 2,151 metres were drilled, seven of which intersected kimberlite. Between 1994 and 1995, another 2000 heavy mineral samples were analysed and 28 holes were drilled. In the following year at least 23 diamond drill holes totalling 5,039 metres were drilled, heavy mineral sampling continued and detailed ground geophysics was completed over grids. Bulk sampling of the Koala, Fox, and Panda pipes took place, from 1993 to 1995. During this period BHP Diamonds initiated prefeasibility studies, and an environmental review was undertaken of the proposed mining project.
In 1997, BHP and Dia Met received final regulatory approval for the mine, and processing facilities. The mine was opened on October 14, 1998.
Some 121 kimberlite pipes have been identified on the property, and 20 of these have been bulk sampled. Of the 20 pipes, eight are in the current mine plan. In excess of 70 million tonnes of ore, and approximately 508 million tonnes of waste rock, are scheduled to be mined over the life of the project. Ore grades are in the order of one carat per tonne. Seven of the eight pipes in the mine plan will initially be mined open pit. The Panda and Koala pipes will subsequently be exploited via underground methods because of the higher value of their ore. The Koala North pipe will be exploited by underground methods only.
The ore is currently being processed at a rate of 9,000 tonnes per day, but it is planned to increase this to 18,000 tonnes from 2007 onwards. The mine life is currently pegged at 17 years.
The Ekati Mine produces around 4 million carats of predominantly gem and industrial quality diamonds a year, about four per cent of current global production by weight, and six per cent by value. Some 9 million carats had been produced from the mine by the end of 2001.
During the latter part of 1991 and early 1992, Aber Resources Ltd. (now Aber Diamond Corp.) staked the mineral claims, which surround the project area. In June 1992, Aber Resources completed a joint venture agreement with Kennecott Canada Exploration to further explore the property. Between April 1992 and January 1994, 20,500 line-km of airborne geophysics was flown, 1,700 heavy mineral samples were taken. Ground geophysics tested airborne anomalies and 65 diamond drillholes totalling 6,630m were completed. Twenty-five kimberlites were discovered.
During 1994, three diamondiferous pipes were sampled. These included A21, A154 South, and A154 North from which nine additional kimberlites were discovered. In 1995, a fourth diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe A418 was discovered. During the summer of 1996, a bulk sample of 6,000 tonnes of kimberlite was taken from A418 and A154 South pipes, yielding 21,000 carats of diamonds. Based on these results, the decision to commence the permitting process for mine development was made.
In 1996, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc, which also owns Kennecott Canada Inc.) was created to develop and manage the Diavik Diamonds Project. Permitting and licensing approvals were obtained from the federal government in late 1999 for the Diavik diamond mine. Construction of the mine is expected to cost $1.3 billion. During the 2001 winter road season, 4,089 truckloads of fuel, construction materials and equipment were hauled to the project site.
Diavik is scheduled to commence production in April 2003. Reserves are estimated at 25.6 million tonnes grading at 4.15 carats per tonne making the deposit one of the richest in the world. A 20-year mine life is envisaged with diamond production averaging 5.4 million carats per year. Diamond prices are expected to be $US63.74 per carat.
Antler Resources Ltd. first staked the Property in 1991. In 1992 a joint venture agreement between Winspear Resources Ltd, Antler Resources Ltd and Aber Resources Ltd was struck to explore the property. By the summer of 1993, kimberlite indicator minerals had been identified at several areas on the property, leading the partners to conclude a kimberlite body lay under Snap Lake. A double-lobed kimberlite pipe was discovered on the property in 1995 (AR083638) and a gently dipping relatively thick kimberlite dyke was also found. In January 1997 Antler Resources amalgamated with Winspear Resources to take full advantage of this discovery.
A decision was made by the joint venture to proceed with bulk sampling of the dyke. During the 1998, a 200 tonne sample was taken. Results from this sample were favourable and a decision was made to commence with the extraction of a 20,000 tonne sample. A three-year, 20,000-tonne bulk sample program was planned and sampling commenced in 1999.
In June of 2000, De Beers Canada Corp. made an all-cash offer to purchase Winspear and this transaction was completed on August 25, 2000. Prior to the successful take-over of the company, Winspear embarked on a large-scale “value recognition program”. The program was designed to define known and projected extensions of the Snap Lake Dyke. Through this program a number of drillholes were completed, as well as an underground decline to the kimberlite. MRDI completed a mineral resource estimate for the dyke. The program succeeded in increasing the total value of the property.
Aber Resources changed its name to Aber Diamond Corporation in early 2000. In December 2000, Aber Diamond Corporation agreed to sell their stake in the property to De Beers Canada Corporation. The transaction was completed on February 1, 2001.
De Beers Snap Lake diamond mine is expected to commence production in 2006.
The Kennady Lake project was originally known as the AK/CJ claims. In 1995, the 5034 pipe was discovered on the property. Macrodiamonds were recovered from samples taken in 1995 and a bulk sampling program was carried out. In March 1997, De Beers Canada Exploration Inc. entered into a joint venture with the claim holders, Mountain Province Mining and Camphor Ventures. Under this venture, De Beers Canada Exploration Inc. assumed immediate operation of the project, with the option of earning up to a 60% interest.
In 1997, the Tesla pipe was discovered on the property, followed by the Hearne and Tuzo pipes in 1997. During 1999, a bulk sample was taken from each of the four pipes to provide a more reliable estimate of diamond grade and value.
During 2000, De Beers studied the feasibility of mining the 5034, Hearne and Tuzo pipes using the data collected to date. They concluded that it was too early to make a production decision, as the results did not provide an acceptable rate of return. In 2002, De Beers recovered further bulk samples from the Hearne and 5034 pipes. For the 5034 pipe, a total of 1,215 carats were recovered from 836 tonnes of kimberlite with the three largest diamonds weighing 7.0, 6.6 and 5.9 carats respectively.
(Fall) Charles Fipke and Stewart Blusson discover diamonds in the Northwest Territories at Point Lake. This discovery results in the largest staking rush in Canadian history.
(Fall) BHP opens Koala Camp just north of Lac de Gras. It also opens an office in Yellowknife.
(September) Aber Resources Ltd. and Kennecott Canada Exploration establish a Diavik Project office in Yellowknife.
Winspear Resources Ltd. and Aber Resources Ltd. discover the Snap Lake diamond deposit.
(November) The Minister of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Premier of the NWT announce the BHP project has received final Cabinet approval and now has the full support of the government.
(December) Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. is created with its head office in Yellowknife.
(Winter) Winspear Resources conducts a 200-tonne bulk sample at Snap Lake that yields high grade, gem-quality diamonds.
(March) Diavik Project Description is submitted to Federal Government triggering formal environmental assessment review.
(April) BHP and the GNWT reach an agreement whereby a diamond sorting and valuation facility would be built in Yellowknife, as well as an understanding that BHP will facilitate the sale of rough diamonds to qualified northern manufacturers for cutting and polishing in the NWT.
(August) GNWT begins work on program to certify diamonds as being mined and cut in the NWT.
(October 14) EKATI™ Diamond Mine officially opens.
(January) Aurora College, in association with ECE and the Diamond High Council (HRD) of Antwerp, Belgium, establishes the Introduction to Diamonds Program (Pre-Employment) and Introduction to Jewellery Program.
(February 18) BHP Sorting and Valuation facility opens in Yellowknife, NT.
(March) Memorandum of Understanding signed between BHP and De Beers for agreement for the sale of 35% run-of-mine.
(April) First one million carats produced by EKATI™ Diamond Mine.
(June) Sirius Diamonds Ltd. officially opens a cutting and polishing facility in Yellowknife. Maple leaf logo launched to represent diamonds from the EKATI™ Diamond Mine in the global marketplace.
(August) The GNWT negotiates a Memorandum of Understanding with Diavik concerning access of rough for NWT manufacturers.
(November) The Federal Government completes the environmental assessment review of the Diavik Diamond Project and allows it to proceed through the next phases of permitting. Arslanian Cutting Works NWT Ltd. signs a Monitoring Agreement with the GNWT.
Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. begins construction.
(March) Deton’Cho Diamonds Inc. opens a cutting and polishing facility in Yellowknife. The GNWT releases the Diamond Polisher Occupational Standards under the Apprenticeship, Trade and Occupations Certification Act.
(April) Snap Lake pre-feasibility study is completed.
(June) Deton’Cho Diamonds Inc. signs a Monitoring Agreement with the GNWT.
(July) Winspear Resources receives offer from De Beers to acquire all common shares in a hostile takeover bid.
(August) De Beers acquires Winspear Resources.
(November) GNWT certifies the first Canadian Arctic Diamond.
(December) Arslanian Cutting Works NWT Ltd. opens a cutting and polishing facility in Yellowknife.
De Beers submits its project description for the Snap Lake Project.
(June) BHP Billiton purchases Dia Met bringing BHP Billiton’s ownership of the Ekati Diamond Mine™ to 80 percent
The GNWT launches new logo representing CANADIAN ARCTIC™ diamonds and the government’s certification program for diamonds mined, cut and polished in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
With the diversity and richness of the NWT’s mineral deposits, we can expect to see mineral development within the territory continue for many years to come.