By Michelle Graff
This shot provided by De Beers shows the Victor mine in northern Ontario, Canada. Diamond mining will cease at the site in the first quarter 2019 after a decade in operation.

Calgary, Canada--De Beers announced late Wednesday that it plans to close one of the two active diamond mines it has in Canada.

The open-pit Victor mine in northern Ontario opened in 2008 and was projected to produce 6 million carats of rough diamonds during its lifetime. To date, the mine has produced 7 million and De Beers said the decision to close it is in line with the original feasibility study and current life-of-mine plan.

Tom Ormsby, De Beers Canada spokesman, said the company will gradually reduce the workforce at Victor over the next 16 months.

Not including contractors, De Beers employees will number 350 in January 2018, 277 in December and then go down to 79 for the decommissioning, demolition, reclamation and environmental monitoring phase that will take place after mining and processing ends.

De Beers has been operating in Canada since 1961, when it first began exploring for diamonds there.

The company came across the Victor kimberlite cluster, the first economically viable diamond discovery in Canada, in 1987 and opened the Victor mine in 2008.

The closure of the Victor a little more than a year from now will leave De Beers with one operating mine in Canada, Gahcho Kué, and the news comes just a week after De Beers all but confirmed reports that it will shut down four land diamond mines in Namibia by 2022.

Outside of Victor and Gahcho Kué, De Beers has the underground Snap Lake Mine in Canada but that mine has been inactive since December 2015.

De Beers said that it developed a mine closure plan before Victor opened and already has started reclamation work on the land, including the planting of more than 200,000 tree saplings and willow stakes that were harvested and grown locally through a community youth work program.

After mining ceases in early 2019, the demolition and environmental monitoring phase will begin and will take three to five years.

De Beers said it will be hiring people and awarding contracts for this phase of the mine’s shutdown, supplementing the 79 employees expected to remain employed after Q1 2019.

Editor's note: This story was updated post-publication to include information obtained from De Beers about employment numbers at the mine.

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