Diamond facilities still empty 1 year after sale announced
Deepak Kumar says he's 'steps away' from closing deal for Yellowknife polishing plants
There are still no polar bear diamonds being manufactured in Yellowknife.
That's despite an announcement a year ago that an Edmonton-based company would revive two shuttered diamond polishing facilities.
Last January, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced Deepak International was buying two GNWT-owned buildings for diamond manufacturing operations and the company would also have exclusive rights to the polar bear trademark.
But the sale of those buildings is still pending.
"I am excited to say we are just steps away [from] closing the deal on the buildings," says Deepak Kumar.
"I didn't realize what a tremendous amount of paperwork was involved. It was my assumption that I would have all the moving parts together but it did take longer than that."
Kumar wouldn't elaborate on those delays. He says he secured $1.9 million from Canadian financial institutions to finance the purchase of the buildings before the big announcement. Kumar says that money is now with lawyers who are finalizing the deal.
He says he has already hired 35 workers and bought equipment that's being stored in warehouses across Canada.
Deepak International gained Approved NWT Diamond Manufacturer status last year, allowing it to buy a portion of the 10 per cent of N.W.T. rough diamond production offered by the territory’s mines to local cutting and polishing operations.
Kumar says he has secured deals with the mining companies for rough diamonds, but wouldn't give details.
Pierre Leblanc, president of Canadian Diamond Consultants, says the delay is worrisome.
"Somewhat afraid we may have a repeat with a similar situation a number of years ago with Lev Leviev — one of the big names in the diamond industry — that was supposed to buy the Arslanian Cutting Works at the time," he says. "Months went on and eventually nothing happened."
N.W.T. Industry Minster David Ramsay says he's confident the polishing factories will produce polar bear diamonds soon.
Kumar says the grand opening is now scheduled for April.