Diamond rich areas were discovered in Canada in the early 1990’s. Since this discovery, Canadian mines have sprouted up and now account for nearly 20% of the world’s production of natural diamonds. Canada is now the third largest supplier of raw diamonds in the world and consumers are taking note.
Quality and Ethics
Canada currently produces some of the best quality diamonds in the world as well. They are becoming increasingly popular due to their ethical mining practices and continual effort to aid in the elimination of Conflict diamonds globally. The Canadian Diamond Code of Conduct is a stringent tracking system of diamonds that protects the “conflict free” status of Canadian Diamonds.
In 2006, the movie “Blood Diamond” hit movie theatres across the world and created a global awareness of the problems surrounding unethical mining practices. Since the Kimberly Process was established in 2003 and movies like Blood Diamond have been made to open the eyes of consumers, sales of Blood Diamonds have slowly decreased although they are still very much a concern in the diamond industry. This awareness has helped to further fuel the demand for Canadian Diamonds. Aside from being conflict free, Canadian Diamonds have become popular for many other reasons:
- Consumers want to buy locally produced goods, diamonds included.
- Canadian diamond mines and polishing facilities benefit the Aboriginal and Northern peoples in the economically challenged Northwest Territories.
- Environmental protection laws for new mines are stronger in Canada than Africa, Russia and South America.
- Only Canadian diamonds cut in the Northwest Territories are trackable, guaranteeing 100% non-conflict origin.
- The diamonds are cut in Canada.
Most Canadian diamond rough gems are sold to multinational cutters with facilities primarily in Israel, India, China and Vietnam where labor costs are lower than in Canada. These stones are marketed as Canadian, but are often cut in the same facilities as diamonds of other origins.
Up to 10% of high quality rough stones are supplied to local manufacturers in Yellow Knife, the capital of the Northwest Territories (NWT). Canada's two active mine owners signed agreements in the late 1990's to support the local secondary diamond industry - cutting and polishing. Polar Bear and Polar Ice diamonds are cut in Yellow Knife supporting the local economy.
Polar Bear and Polar Ice diamonds are mined, cut, polished and certified in Canada's Northwest Territories. All Polar diamonds are certified and tracked by the government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) from mines, to cutting facility, and then retailer.
Canadian diamonds are tracked from mine, through the refining process to the retail jeweler with a unique diamond identification number (DIN) laser inscribed on the diamonds girdle.
Active Canadian Mines
There are currently 6 Major Diamond Mines in Canada.
Diavik Mine[see picture] is one of the largest diamond mines in the world producing almost 8 million carats annually of raw diamond materials equalling over $100 million in yearly sales. The mine is currently owned jointly by Harry Winston Diamond Corporation and Rio Tinto Group. It was discovered in 1992 and production began in 2003 and is expected to run until 2019-2025. For the Majority of the Diavik Mines life it have been an open pit mine but underground mining began in 2012 as well.
Ekati Mine has now been in production for over 10 years. It is currently the 2nd largest mine in Canada and is responsible for nearly 4.5 million carats per year of rough diamonds. It is ran by BHP Billiton Canada Inc.
Jericho Mine Status: Inactive Owner: Shear Diamonds Type: Open Pit 390,000 carats per year Discovered in the late 90’s. Was run for 2 years from 2006 to 2008 and is in the process of re-opening.
Snap Lake Mine Status: Active Type: Underground Owner: DeBeers 1.4 million carats annually DeBeers' first mine outside of Africa. Opened in 2008 and expect to run until 2025.
Victor Mine Status: Active Owner: DeBeers Type: Open Pit 600,000 carats per year Discovered in 1995, mining began in 2008 and is expected to run for 15+ years
World Diamond Production in Carats
Canadian Diamonds currently account for nearly 20% of all diamonds worldwide. Considering diamonds were only discovered here 20 years ago, the figure is quite astonishing. Russian and Botswana are nearly tied as the two leaders of diamond production with Canada in very near third place.
Facts about Blood Diamonds
Although the purchasing and processing of Blood Diamonds has been reduced by nearly 80% in the past decade, Conflict Diamonds are still very much a part of world diamond trade. Some sources say they still account for 2-3% of diamonds sold globally and nearly 15% of Sierra Leones diamonds come from conflict related diamond mines.
Although conflict diamonds currently represent only a small portion of overall diamond trade, it is estimated that over 20% of all diamonds sold are illegally trafficked using smugglers. A Diamond is a smugglers dream; they are small, portable, and extremely valuable. Because of this, diamonds are used to launder money, trade for guns, drugs and other illegal activities. Nearly 60% of all diamonds coming from Sierra Leone are smuggled out and almost 40% of the diamonds that come from the Republic of Congo have unknown origins.
The average conflict free diamond miner in sierra lione earns seven cents per day...