Diamonds discovered for 1st time in Manitoba

Very small diamonds have been discovered in Manitoba, a first for the province, says a geologist.

‘It’s quite exciting for the province ... Hold onto your hats’

A jeweller examines a brilliant cut 1.01 carat diamond. Micro-diamonds, measuring less than 1 millimetre, were found recently in northeastern Manitoba. (Getty Images)

Very small diamonds have been discovered in Manitoba, a first for the province, says a Winnipeg geologist.

Ruth Bezys, president of the Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association based in Winnipeg, says an informal consortium made up of Manitoba and Alberta prospectors discovered the precious gemstones in the northeastern part of the province.

Their discovery was announced at this year's Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference held in Toronto. They were found near Knee Lake and measure less than a millimetre in size.

Knee Lake is a large lake on the Hayes River, 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and downstream from Bunibonibee Cree Nation and Oxford Lake.

This is the first publicly reported discovery of diamonds in the province, Bezys said.

Areas where prospectors searched for diamonds in Manitoba. (CBC)

Given that diamonds have been mined in northern Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, geologists have long suspected there's a deposit in Manitoba.

"It's quite exciting for the province," Bezys said. "Hold onto your hats."

Prospectors have been looking for diamonds in Manitoba for 16 years. International mining company Kennecott did exploratory drilling in 2001 and other major players in diamond exploration, such as De Beers and BHP Minerals, have also done aerial explorations of the region.

Lynx Consortium, the group that discovered the micro-diamonds, found them in bedrock, which could indicate the presence of a fair amount more, she said.

Often diamonds are found in a rare, blue rock called kimberlite.

The next phase of their work will require millions of dollars to do deeper exploration. If more diamonds are found, developers could create a mine.

"It will be very exciting for all people involved, even our First Nations.… This will be great news for every Manitoban," said Bezys.

with files from Meaghan Ketcheson