Almod Diamonds plans to reopen Yellowknife diamond factory
'We have factories in areas that are challenging and we've been successful doing it,' says president
After being shuttered for several years, a Yellowknife diamond manufacturing plant is expected to reopen within three to six months.
Almod Diamonds president Albert Gad said Monday the company will close the purchase of one of the old factories by the airport on Thursday. Ten employees will initially be stationed in Yellowknife, though they will come from the company's other operations.
The New York-based company touts itself as the largest vertically-integrated company in the diamond industry. It cuts and polishes diamonds, designs and manufactures jewelry and sells jewelry through its retail arm, Diamonds International.
"They have a strong and unique position in the global marketplace and that will allow them to succeed in our territory where others have struggled," said Wally Schumann, N.W.T. minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Almod Diamonds has been given approved N.W.T. diamond manufacturer status, which means the company has access to rough diamonds mined in the territory. Diamond mines in the N.W.T. are required to provide 10 per cent of their production to a manufacturer in the territory.
The agreement does not include the use of the Polar Bear diamond trademark.
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Nearly four years ago the territorial government gave approved diamond manufacturer status to Deepak International, a company that also bought an old factory but ultimately never opened it and was sued by its financiers.
Almod also has a factory in Namibia, and Gad says when other companies were shutting down their plants there, they were expanding.
"We have factories in areas that are challenging and we've been successful doing it," said Gad.
The company says it will take at least three months to assess the state of the factory and its equipment, obtain new equipment if needed and assemble staff prior to reopening.
Gad said most of its staff will initially come from the company's other operations, saying it takes up to two years to train workers in diamond cutting and polishing.
Gad said the company expects to take advantage of aurora tourism by giving visitors the opportunity to see diamonds being manufactured and then make a jewelry purchase.