The Ekati Diamond Mine (named after the Tlicho word meaning ‘fat lake’) is Canada’s first surface and underground diamond mine. It officially began production in October 1998, following extensive exploration and development work dating back to 1981. Like Diavik, the Ekati mine site is located in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories, approximately 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife.
The Ekati mine is renowned for the premium gem quality diamonds it produces. The largest gem quality diamond produced to date at the mine is the 78 carat Ekati Spirit, which was discovered in 2010 and sold at auction in 2011. A production milestone of 50 million carats was achieved in 2011.
The Company’s interests in the Ekati mine include: 80 per cent of the Core Zone (current operations and other permitted kimberlite pipes) and 58.8 per cent of the Buffer Zone (development and exploration potential).
Over the mine’s early years, production was focused on six open pits. Current production at the Ekati Diamond Mine includes ore sourced primarily from the Fox open pit (which is lower-grade, but high carat value), supplemented by underground production from the lower portion of the Koala and Koala North kimberlite pipes.
While carat production in the next two years is expected to be lower than the average achieved over the last five years, it is expected to return to higher carat production as the mine transitions to production from the Misery and Pigeon open pits, which have higher grades, but lower carat values. The current Ekati mine plan calls for a further seven years of production to 2019, but there are additional resources which could become economic with increased diamond prices.
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