Dominion Diamond posts $15M loss, awaits new pit approval by N.W.T. minister

Dominion Diamond Corporation, the owner of two diamond mines northeast of Yellowknife, has posted a loss of $15 million for the past fiscal year, after reporting a profit of $219 million the year before.

Bosses point to falling diamond prices, 'transitional year' at Ekati

Dominion Diamond Corporation partly blamed low diamond prices, and the mining of lower-grade ore at its Ekati Diamond Mine, for the $15C million loss the company has posted for the past fiscal year.

Dominion Diamond Corporation has posted a loss of $15 million for the past fiscal year, after reporting a profit of $219 million in 2014-2015.

The company which owns stakes in two Northwest Territories diamond mines — a majority stake in Ekati and a minority stake in Diavik — released its year-end results Wednesday.

Ron Cameron, chief financial officer, Dominion Diamond Corp. (Dominion Diamond Corporation )

"[The year] was a transitional year for Ekati and the fourth quarter was the weakest, with a high volume of lower-valued carats produced and a five-per-cent fall in diamond prices," said Ron Cameron, Dominion's chief financial officer, during a conference call Thursday morning.

Cameron said the company will soon start mining high-grade ore from Ekati's Misery open pit.

Planning for Jay project continues

Meanwhile, planning continues for the development of the Jay open pit, which could extend the life of Ekati by 13 years, to the year 2033.

Dominion expects to release a feasibility study on the project in late May — the same month the company expects Robert C. McLeod, the N.W.T.'s minister of lands, to decide on whether the Jay project should proceed to the permitting stage.

The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board gave the project its blessing in February, albeit with 22 conditions, including a provision for safe caribou crossing features along 70 per cent of the road to be used for hauling ore from the Jay pit.

"If the minister confirms the review board's decision, we'll file our land use permit and water licence applications shortly thereafter," said Elliot Holland, Dominon's vice-president of projects.

New life for Diavik mine?

A report released earlier this month by Rio Tinto, the majority owner and operator of the Diavik diamond mine, suggests the mine's life could be extended past its long-touted end in 2023. (Rio Tinto )

Dominion also gave a brief update on the Diavik diamond mine, where probable reserves at the A-154 North pit have more than doubled. 

A report released earlier this month by Rio Tinto, the majority owner and operator of Diavik, suggests that thanks to that increase, Diavik's mine life could be extended past its long-touted end date of 2023.

"Diavik's life of mine plan is to have consistent production past 2023. Doing so would result in Diavik successfully achieving, and potentially exceeding, the high end of its projected mine life," the report stated. 

Rio Tinto is expected to deliver a revised life-of-mine plan for Diavik to Dominion "in the near future," said Chantal Lavoie, Dominion's chief operating officer.   

Dominion will give its shareholders a dividend of 20 cents per share in June.