De Beers puts shuttered Snap Lake diamond mine up for sale

De Beers is putting the Snap Lake diamond mine in the N.W.T. up for sale, after the company said it would evaluate the economic prospects of reopening the mine.

Company hopes to find buyer before flooding of mine begins in fall

De Beers began suspending operations at Snap Lake in December. (De Beers Group)

De Beers is putting the N.W.T.'s Snap Lake diamond mine up for sale.

The company began suspending operations at the unprofitable mine, located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, in December. 

Since then it's been planning to flood the underground workings of the mine to cut down on costs. That flooding is set to begin by October or November.

"Before it gets flooded, if anyone has that interest, now's the time to raise your hand," said Tom Ormsby, a spokesperson for De Beers Canada.​

The company is open to selling the mine after flooding begins, but whoever buys it would have to shoulder the extra cost of dewatering the underground tunnels. 

Still lots of diamonds left 

Ormsby says Snap Lake still has 20 to 30 million carats in the ground — enough to sustain production for 12 years. 

"We still think there's a future for that ore body," he said.

De Beers Canada spokesperson Tom Ormsby.
But today's announcement strongly suggests De Beers itself is not interested.

In December, the company said it would revisit the idea of reopening the mine within a year. 

Ormsby said that economic evaluation remains ongoing, but added, "There's always been the understanding that [selling] is one of the options that has been on the table for a long time as a possible future for Snap Lake."

De Beers' second N.W.T. diamond mine, Gahcho Kue, is still expected to open later this year.

As of March, 96 former Snap Lake workers had been transferred to Gahcho Kue, which is currently in the final stages of commissioning.