Mining and exploration review north of the 60th parallel

Diamonds, the New Gold


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Diamonds have long embraced the twin notions of eternal devotion and eternal value. In an era where diamonds are becoming increasingly rare, Stornoway Diamond Corporation holds strong to their vision – building a world class company based on quality products, and mutual respect and trust between community and environment, while simultaneously satisfying the world’s adoration for these brilliant gemstones.


Approaching their 10th anniversary, the Canadian diamond exploration and development company recently became Quebec-based with the relocation of their head office from north Vancouver to Montreal. The motivation, the 100 per cent Stornoway-owned flagship asset, the Renard Diamond Project, slated to become Quebec’s first diamond mine by mid-2015.


Though the Renard Diamond Project is a large development within the company, Stornoway pride themselves on being a multi-asset company in an industry where having one good asset is a rarity. Succinctly, the company maintains a pipeline of projects ready to advance after the Renard Project is financed and moving forward to production, such as the Qilalugaq, Aviat, and Timiskaming projects.


Home to the Q 1-4 pipe, currently the largest known diamondiferous kimberlite in the eastern Arctic, the 7,143 hectare (17,650 acre) Qilalugaq Project is situated approximately 10 kilometres north of Repulse Bay in Nunavut. As Stornoway Diamond Corp. President and CEO Matt Manson shares, the pipe consists of approximately 48.8 million tonnes of kimberlite at a diamond content of 53.6 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) for a 26.1 million carat mineral resource extending from surface to a depth of 205 metres.


17 - Bulk_sampling Barb Kupsch“Qilalugaq is a big kimberlite with a modest grade, and is probably the one most interesting to us because it is easily accessible from the hamlet of Repulse Bay, a benefit in terms of logistics and infrastructure,” explains Manson, “That’s why we’re most interested of all of our advanced projects; it’s big with big potential, relatively easy to mine, and is a low-cost type of operation.”


The word Qilalugaq (pronounced “kill-a-loo-gack”) is a nod to the surrounding Inuit community, its translation meaning “beluga and narwhal,” animals that have historically been staples of the hamlet’s survival. As with any Stornoway project, community is at the forefront and the team was encouraged by the local response to the Qilalugaq project.


“I think the north is perceived to be a very friendly jurisdiction for mining, and I think the Nunavut government has gone a long way to attract mining investment. And certainly the geological potential is there,” says Manson, adding that social acceptability is key to a successful project.


Recently, the company applied for the appropriate permitting and conducted a community consultation with Repulse Bay in preparation for a mini-bulk sample in the next few years. And after that, Stornoway’s long-term plan involves conducting a full bulk sample on Qilalugaq.


17 - helicopter bulk sample 07“As we focus on the financing and development of the Renard Diamond Project in Québec, we continue to nurture our pipeline projects that represent the company’s future growth potential,” says Manson. “The Qilalugaq Project, along with the Aviat Project on the Melville Peninsula of Nunavut, is one of our advanced exploration projects where previous work has delineated a large potential inventory of diamonds, but where we have only limited diamond valuation data. We are very pleased to have reported such a large maiden mineral resource estimate at Qilalugaq that, with the long term positive outlook on diamond prices, is becoming increasing compelling.”


For Stornoway, the future is as brilliant as the products they hope to soon export.


“The country is the third biggest producer,” adds the Stornoway president and CEO. “The two big mines in the Northwest Territories are in the final half of their life, and new projects, like Renard, are the ones that are going to take over the production profile. Renard will be a big deal in the Canadian diamond business and the world.”

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