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95-carat diamond unearthed at Gahcho Kue mine

Mountain Province Diamonds says the 95-carat stone found at the Gahcho Kue mine is the largest gem-quality diamond the mine has produced so far

The largest gem-quality stone the mine has produced so far, says diamond company

This 95-carat diamond is the largest gem-quality the Gaucho Kue mine has produced so far, according to Mounatian Province Diamonds. (Reid Mackie )

A big diamond has been unearthed at the Northwest Territories' newest mine.

Mountain Province Diamonds revealed on Wednesday that a 95-carat stone found at the Gahcho Kue mine is on its way to Antwerp, Belgium to be viewed by buyers in preparation for an online auction next month.

The company says it's the largest gem-quality stone the mine has produced so far, and likely the most valuable.

"We have, obviously, exceptional size, especially by Canadian standards," said Reid Mackie, vice-president of sales for Mountain Province.

"This is kind of the elite of the diamond estimation world," said Reid Mackie, vice president of diamond marketing for Mountain Province Diamonds. (Submitted by Reid Mackie)

"In terms of quality it's very high quality. It's not carrying any negative attributes whatsoever, and fits in very nicely with the kind of upper echelons of the diamond trade." 

Mountain Province owns 49 per cent of Gahcho Kue, located 280 km northeast of Yellowknife. De Beers owns the rest and operates the mine.

The mine began commercial production in March 2017.

The two companies split the diamonds the mine produces, bidding on packages they later resell to buyers in Antwerp. The large diamond was part of a package of especially valuable gems that Mountain Province bought earlier this year.

Mackie said the diamond's shape and quality means less of it will have to be lost in the cutting and polishing process compared to stones with imperfections. He said such stones attract a very select group of buyers.

"This is kind of the elite of the diamond estimation world," he said. "They'll be taking a look at the diamond and weighing up the various possibilities. I don't want to preclude any decisions but they'll be looking at [turning it into] a very large pair of diamonds, perhaps, or one very large stone."

Mackie would not estimate how much the stone will sell for, other than to say it will be in the millions of dollars.

Large gems found at newer N.W.T. mines

Canadian mines have not produced the same large sized stones produced in Africa, but some large gems have been produced by comparatively new mines in the N.W.T.

The largest so far is a 187.7 carat stone found at the Diavik mine in 2015. Dubbed the Foxfire, it had an estimated value of $10 million, though the final selling price was never revealed. The 78-carat "Ekati Spirit," found at the Ekati mine in 2010, sold for more than $6 million.

Last year Gahcho Kue produced two big gems, weighing in at 58 and 68 carats.

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