About 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, at the bottom of Lac de Gras, sit some of the world’s most beautiful and sought-after diamonds. This is the Diavik Diamond Mine, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, also home to our award-winning wind farm. Our diamonds from Diavik are stunning white gems, produced to the highest possible standards of safety and integrity.
Diavik comprises four diamond-bearing pipes that we mine using a combination of open pit and underground mining. The Diavik Diamond Mine is managed by Rio Tinto and is owned by a joint venture between Diavik Diamond Mines (2012) Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto (60% ownership) and Dominion Diamond Diavik Limited Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Diamond Mines (40% ownership).
Innovation at Diavik
The design, construction and operation of Diavik is a story of success on a grand scale, in part because it is in one of the most challenging environments in the world: the sub-arctic tundra, one of the world’s pristine environments with one of the most delicate ecosystems. We are committed to protecting the biodiversity of this unique landscape.
And, through innovation, world class engineering technologies and partnering with Indigenous people, we are able to mine some of the world’s most ethical diamonds with a minimal impact on the local land, water, and wildlife.
For example, we have developed world class engineering technology and techniques to hold back the waters of Lac de Gras (to reach the diamond-bearing pipes at the bottom of the lake) in a way that minimises disturbance. Once we have built the embankment, creating a pool of water within the lake, we pump millions of litres from this pool back into the lake, monitoring water quality and fish stocks.
Our focus on minimising our environmental impact was also inherent in our construction of an award-winning wind farm that generates significant renewable energy for Diavik’s operation. It is one of the largest hybrid wind-diesel power facilities at a remote mine site and, since coming on line in 2012, the windfarm has offset Diavik’s diesel use by over 28 million litres and reduced the overall greenhouse gas emissions by 75,000 tonnes.
All mines have a finite life cycle and Diavik has planned for its closure from the outset. The buildings on site have been designed to be removed without a trace. And when mining ends, the embankments will be reclaimed and lake water will flow back into the open pit.
Holding Back the Waters
We have developed world class engineering technology and techniques to hold back the waters of Lac de Gras (to reach the diamond-bearing pipes at the bottom of the lake) in a way that minimises disturbance. Once we have built the embankment, creating a pool of water within the lake, we pump millions of litres from this pool back into the lake, monitoring water quality and fish stocks.
In 2018, we opened a fourth diamond pipe, known as A21, at the Diavik Diamond Mine. The new open pit pipe will provide an important source of incremental supply over the next four years to sustain production levels at the mine. The A21 pipe is located adjacent to Diavik’s existing mining operations at Lac de Gras. First ore was delivered in March following a four-year construction period and an investment of approximately $350 million, shared by Rio Tinto and joint venture partner Dominion Diamond Corporation. This investment to sustain production levels at Diavik reflects the strong outlook we see for the diamond industry.