Nunavut’s 1st diamond mine could re-open

Nunavut's first diamond mine might soon be back in business for the first time since it closed in 2008.

Shear Diamonds hopes to dig through stockpiled ore at Jericho site

Nunavut's first diamond mine might soon be back in business for the first time since it closed.

The company that now owns the Jericho mine, which is 360 kilometres south of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is preparing to look for diamonds there again.

The mine was closed in 2008 after a series of problems left its owners, Tahera Diamond Corporation, unable to pay the bills. Shear Diamonds bought the mine in July 2010.

In a few weeks, somewhere between 20 and 40 workers will begin searching through the leftover rubble for diamonds which the last owners might have missed.

"There is quite a bit of stockpiled ore at site and we’ll probably be able to process that for six to nine months," said Shear Diamonds CEO Julie Lassonde.

"It will depend on the speed at which we can process it and obviously bringing the plant – or at least the recovery portion of the plant – back up and running at full speed. There is some rehabilitation and some general work that needs to be done."

Lassonde said that will be the first step in a process which will eventually lead to the reopening of the mine.

She said the company will slowly work towards completely re-opening and staffing Jericho, pending approval of the company’s water license by the federal government.

"Full commercial production, which means actual blasting within the Jericho kimberlite probably won’t be for another 18 to 24 months, depending on a variety of things including the winter road of 2013 and equipment purchases for that time. But that’s our current view, and obviously that’s very exciting," she said.

Lassonde said she expects there to be 80 to 100 people working at the site when it’s fully up and running.

John Duncan, the federal minister responsible for Nunavut’s water licenses, is expected to make a decision on the company’s application in February.