Dominion Diamond to lose estimated $100M in revenue during Ekati process plant shutdown

Dominion Diamond's revised production forecast for the 2017 fiscal year estimates that because of the shutdown it will now produce 4.7 million carats of diamonds, down 15 per cent.

Cause of process plant fire still under investigation

An aerial view of the Ekati mine, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. (Dominion Diamond Corporation)

The three-month shutdown of Ekati mine's process plant while it undergoes repairs following a fire is expected to cost Dominion Diamond Corporation $100 million in lost revenue.

The company has revised its production forecast for the 2017 fiscal year. Dominion Diamond estimates that because of the shutdown it will now produce 4.7 million carats of diamonds during this fiscal year, down 15 per cent and approximately $100 million in revenue from what it originally estimated.

Despite the anticipated loss of revenue, Dominion Diamond announced Wednesday that it will be going ahead with the Jay Project at Ekati.

The project was approved by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board in February. The company hopes to start mining the Jay pit in 2021.

Dominion Diamond estimates the Jay pit will help the Ekati mine remain in operation until 2033.

Fire suppression system turned off during maintenance

The company is still investigating the cause of the fire at the process plant June 23.

A degritting screen caught fire at approximately 7:30 a.m. The screen is on a conveyor belt and sorts different sizes of ore.

The morning of the fire, the screen was being replaced and was turned off. The company says when a piece of equipment is under maintenance, its fire suppression systems are also turned off.

Degritting systems have what's known as a "fire wire" that, when burned by a flame, triggers an alarm. The morning of the fire, the "fire wire" on the screen was turned off.

It's not clear if the wire would have notified crews earlier about the fire.

Dominion Diamond Corporation says it has sent two teams up to Ekati to try and determine the cause of the fire.

Company officials speculate that during the replacement of the screen that some plastic and rubber may have caught fire and spread.

The company says it hopes to know the cause of the fire within the next week or so.