One of the owners of N.W.T.'s Gahcho Kué diamond project says scooping up about 100 employees from the closing Snap Lake mine will have a "positive impact" as the project races toward first production in 2016.
Gahcho Kué is hiring more staff for what it calls "operational readiness." According to Patrick Evans, CEO of Mountain Province Diamonds, employees laid off from Snap Lake, just 90 kilometres away, are turning out to be ideal candidates.
"It's going to have quite a positive impact," said Evans.
"We are able to get fully trained, inducted, and experienced employees."
Evans said 41 Snap Lake employees have already transferred to the project, and another 60 will follow next year.
Mountain Province Diamonds owns 49 per cent of Gahcho Kué. De Beers Canada owns the other 51 per cent.
He said the shutdown of the Snap Lake mine, which is solely owned by De Beers, has not dampened expectations at Gahcho Kué.
"No, they're completely different mines," he said.
"Snap Lake is a very difficult underground mine, completely different to Gahcho Kué, which is an open pit mine. There really aren't any, if you like, mining lessons that have been learned at Snap Lake that are going to be beneficial to Gahcho Kué."
Evans said as of the end of November, construction of Gahcho Kué is more than 80 per cent complete and on budget.
He said despite a 14 per cent decline in diamond prices so far this year, the mine will still be profitable due to a low Canadian dollar and low cost of diesel.
"The operating cost items are down quite significantly," Evans said.
"Diamond prices are down somewhat and on balance we expect the operating margins, the profitability if you like, of Gahcho Kué is going to remain strong."
First production at the mine is scheduled for the second half of 2016.