Mining Explorers 2017: Dominion Diamond Corp.
Dominion Diamond Corp. budgeted US$9 million for exploration around the diamond-rich Lac de Gras region in the Northwest Territories, including a renewed focus on exploration drilling on the Ekati Mine property and kimberlite expansion drilling at Diavik. Leveraging its infrastructure advantage, the company renewed its focus on investigating the diamond potential of the wider Ekati property, where no greenfield exploration has taken place since 2006. Dominion operates the Ekati Mine through an 88.9 percent ownership of the project’s Core zone and full ownership of the Buffer zone. As of the end of January, Ekati hosted 105.4 million carats of diamonds in probable reserves, enough to keep the mine in operation into 2033. Nearly 75 percent of these reserves are found at Jay, a deposit slated to begin feeding ore to the Ekati processing facility by late 2022. The Koala, Fox, Misery and Sable pipes in the Core zone; and the Lynx pipe in the Buffer zone host the balance of the reserves. In May, Dominion published a maiden inferred mineral resource of 16 million carats of diamonds in 51 million metric tons of kimberlite at the Leslie pipe, and a concept study is planned this year. There are 150 known kimberlites on the Ekati property, roughly 110 of which have not been extensively tested. The 2017 summer exploration program included ground geophysics and drone magnetic surveys to help prioritize drill targets. The company drilled Kodiak, a kimberlite pipe close to Ekati infrastructure and submitted roughly 530 kilograms of material for analysis. Two other exploration targets were drilled by the end of July but no kimberlite was found.
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On the development front, Dominion has several projects in the pipeline at Ekati – Lynx, an open-pit expected to deliver ore to the Ekati process plant in the second quarter of 2018; Sable, which is in the pre-stripping phase of development; Jay, which is in the final stages of permitting; Misery Deep, a resource below the Misery open-pit that hosts 8.7 million carats of diamond in 1.8 million metric tons of reserves; and Fox Deep, another underground resource in the pre-feasibility stage.
At Diavik, a mine owned by a joint venture between Dominion (40 percent) and Rio Tinto (60 percent), drilling of three priority kimberlites – C42, T29 and A61 – was completed this year. Additionally, the development of the A-21 kimberlite pipe at Diavik continues to progress on time and on budget with the completion of the dike and the start of de-watering expected in late 2017. First ore from A-21 is expected to be delivered to the Diavik mill in 2018.
In July, Dominion Diamond reached an agreement to be bought by The Washington Companies in a deal worth roughly US$1.2 billion. Owned by billionaire Dennis Washington, The Washington Companies is a group of privately held North American mining industrial and transportation businesses. Washington has agreed to pay cash to acquire all of Dominion’s outstanding common shares at US$14.25 per share. Dominion Diamond shareholders approved the arrangement on Sept. 19, and the deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
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