Still in its first year of commercial production, the Gahcho Kué Mine is establishing itself as one of the top diamond mines in the world by producing more than five million carats in the first 10 months of the year.
The mine, a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51% - the Operator) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%), was forecast to produce an average of 4.5 million carats annually, a target that was met by early October for 2017. Gahcho Kué's production is now playing an important role in De Beers Group's global production portfolio and supported a significant rise in the Group's overall rough diamond production levels over the first three quarters of 2017.
De Beers Canada CEO Kim Truter says much of the early success can be contributed to the tremendous project phase that set the mine up with the right technical, safety and economic cultures.
"Having the right team in place for the project phase allowed us and our contract partners to build the mine ahead of time and on budget, no easy feat for a remote operation located on the edge of the Arctic Circle," said Truter. "We have built three mines in the last 10 years in Canada, giving us the most experience regarding recruiting, planning, construction and project execution of any mining company in the country over the last decade, positioning us very well for continued future growth as opportunities emerge."
Since late 2016, Gahcho Kué has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards for safety, project and operational management. One of the most recent accolades came in late October when Gahcho Kué was named one of the top three projects globally, from a list of 56 entries worldwide, for the Project Management Institute's Project of the Year Award Gala in Chicago, IL.
David Whittle, interim President and CEO of Mountain Province Diamonds, added: "The depth of diamond mining experience within De Beers is unmatched in the industry. The safety and operating performance at Gahcho Kué has been excellent and we congratulate our operating partner on achieving the five million carat milestone well ahead of our original plan."
Higher than expected recovered diamond grade of 2.07 carats per tonne through the first nine months of this year, along with excellent work identifying and removing bottlenecks in the process plant, is allowing the team to handle the additional tonnes of ore that are being delivered consistently by the mining team, according to Gahcho Kué General Manager Allan Rodel.
"Our success certainly comes down to our people, with exceptional performances by everyone across Gahcho Kué Mine," said Rodel. "The operational maturity of the team across the mine so early into commercial production is impressive and has positioned Gahcho Kué build on this momentum as we prepare for another big production year in 2018. We are also very proud of our strong safety record and environmental performance over this time as well."