De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, opened its first two mines outside Africa Friday as it tries to re-launch as the big brother of the gemstones.
The two mines, Snap Lake and Victor mines, are expected to produce two million carats of high quality diamonds per annum, adding to De Beers Family of Companies strategy for production growth to meet growing consumer demand for diamonds.
The historic occasion was graced by Jonathan and Nicky Oppenheimer, De Beers Managing Director, Gareth Penny and Jim Gowans, President of
De Beers Canada, employees and members of the local communities at both mines in an event that was expected to run for two days.
Commenting on this milestone moment for De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimer said, “This is an exciting moment in the history of De Beers. Never before have we opened two mines at the same time and never before have we opened a mine outside of Africa. I congratulate Jim Gowans and his team for their hard work and dedication in bringing Snap Lake and Victor Mines into production. It is gratifying to see not only the contribution these mines will make to De Beers but the contribution they are already making to the communities in which they are based.”
Jim Gowans, who is overseeing the development and launch of both mines noted, “It has taken us several years and over $1 billion to build each mine. We have also built strong relationships with local communities, and upheld the highest environmental standards. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished.”
From exploration through to production, the diamond industry has brought employment, economic growth, skills training and business opportunities to original communities in Canada. De Beers believes that a well-managed diamond mine can and should serve as a driver of sustainable local development and between Snap Lake and Victor Mines, more than C$650 million has been spent with original businesses.
De Beers is also committed to supporting the secondary diamond industry in Canada. As such, agreements have been reached with the Governments of the Northwest Territories and Ontario for De Beers to make available for sale ten percent (10%) of diamonds from the Snap Lake Mine and Victor Mines, by value, to provincially approved manufacturers who have successfully fulfilled the Diamond Trading Company’s client selection criteria.