By Michelle Graff
An aerial shot of the pit and plant at the open-pit Gahcho Kué diamond mine. De Beers said it’s the biggest diamond mine under construction anywhere in the world and is on track to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2017.
Toronto--Gahcho Kué, the largest new diamond mine under construction anywhere in the world, has moved into the production phase and is expected to be fully operational early next year, De Beers said.

Pronounced Ga-cho Kway, the open-pit mine is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, about 280 km (174 miles) northeast of the capital, Yellowknife. It is owned by De Beers (51 percent) and Mountain Province Diamond (49 percent), a Toronto-based mining company.

De Beers announced last week that the new mine’s process plant has been commissioned and ore from the mine now is being fed into it, signaling the formal ramp-up of diamond production.

Gahcho Kué is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats per year over the course of its life, which is expected to be 13 years.

The Canadian government approved development of the diamond mine in 2013.

To date, more than 20 million tons of waste has been pre-stripped at the site in order to expose the ore.

The first ore was exposed in March and introduced into the processing facility in June, with the first commissioning carats recovered on June 30.

De Beers Canada also has the Victor Mine in northern Ontario and Snap Lake in the Northwest Territories, though it has halted production of the latter and will flood it this fall, unless another diamond mining company steps forward to buy it.

Canada is the third largest diamond-producing country in the world by value.

Editor’s note: This story was updated post-publication to reflect the fact that the life of the Gahcho Kué mine is now expected to be 13 years, up slightly from 11.

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