By Michelle Graff
A shot of the underground portion of Canada’s Ekati Diamond Mine. The mine’s owner, Dominion Diamond Corp., is set to be acquired by The Washington Companies in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Washington lists extending the life of Ekati among its priorities. (© 2017 Dominion Diamond Corporation)
Missoula, Mont.--The Washington Companies is set to acquire Canadian diamond mining company Dominion in a deal valued at $1.2 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, Washington, a Missoula, Montana-based collection of mining, industrial and transportation businesses, will acquire all shares of Dominion Diamond Corp. for $14.25 per share in cash, a premium to the $13.50 per share Washington offered back in March when Dominion first started exploring a sale.

The agreement, which is subject to shareholder and Canadian regulatory approvals, would make the now-public mining company private.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Dominion Diamond Corp. operates the Ekati Diamond Mine and also owns 40 percent of the Diavik Diamond Mine; the remaining 60 percent is owned by Rio Tinto. Both mines are located in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Dominion also has diamond sorting and selling operations in Canada, Belgium and India, and it owns the CanadaMark diamond brand, which it resurrected in 2014.

It is the world’s third largest producer of rough diamonds by value, behind De Beers and Alrosa.

Washington is a group of privately held mining, industrial and transportation companies founded by billionaire U.S. industrialist Dennis R. Washington. It includes Montana Resources, which operates a copper and molybdenum mine in Butte, Montana; railroad companies Montana Rail Link and Southern Railway of British Columbia; and Envirocon, which does environmental remediation.

The company said it will operate Dominion as a standalone business, keeping its headquarters in Canada and retaining the vast majority of Dominion employees while appointing a new CEO based in Canada for Dominion. Former CEO Brendan Bell left the company on June 30 and has not yet been replaced.

It also will continue to promote the CanadaMark diamond brand and put money into the Jay and Fox Deep projects. Jay is an undeveloped deposit at the Ekati mine while Fox Deep refers to a potential underground mine at Ekati’s mined-out Fox open pit.

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