North

Peregrine Diamonds needs a $95M all-weather road

Peregrine Diamond executives are optimistic about an exploration site on Baffin Island but say a $95-million all-weather road is critical to the project.

'The road in is a critical piece of infrastructure'

Bulk samples of kimberlite at Peregrine Diamond's Chidliak site in Nunavut. The company says it needs an all-weather road to access the site. (Peregrine Diamonds)

A diamond company working on Baffin Island says it could spend 10 years extracting roughly $2.5 billion in net revenue — but first it needs to build a $95 million all-weather road to Iqaluit. 

Peregrine Diamond's Chidliak project lies about 120 kilometres north of Iqaluit. (CBC)
Peregrine Diamonds president and chief executive officer Tom Peregoodoff held a conference call with stakeholders Tuesday to talk about the two kimberlite pipes that make up phase one of the Chidliak diamond project, 120 km northeast of Iqaluit. Peregrine has been exploring at Chidliak since 2005.

But to get the project up and running, the company needs to build a 160 km all-season road from Iqaluit to the site.

"The road in is a critical piece of infrastructure and we need that prior to commencement of construction to minimize our construction capital costs," said Peregoodoff.

Winter road won't cut it

Other diamond mines in the north, like Ekati and Diavik, are supported by winter roads from Yellowknife to the site, says Peregoodoff. 

But those roads are mostly built on ice and operate eight to 10 weeks out of the year. 

An extended winter road from Iqaluit to Chidliak would go over more rugged terrain and many parts would have to be an all-weather road anyway, says Peregoodoff. 

Discovery Camp at the Chidliak Diamond Project in the summer of 2014. (Peregrine Diamonds)

Plus, a winter road to Chidliak would only last six to eight weeks. And blizzards could narrow that already short window by three to five days with every storm. 

"That obviously would have an impact on the amount of equipment you need to position in Iqaluit so that you can get all the loads of fuel and other consumables on site," said Peregoodoff.

If a winter road was used, he says the site would have to be supported by large transport aircraft, like Hercules, using an airstrip built at the site.

Peregoodoff says there is an opportunity to access federal infrastructure funding to help build the $95 million dollar road.

He says the company is on track to have phase one of the mine operating in 2020.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the road would cost $25 million. In fact, the road would cost $95 million.
    Jul 13, 2016 3:15 PM CT

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