Dominion Diamond Corp. (formerly Harry Winston, Inc.) has completed its acquisition of the interests of BHP Billiton Canada Inc. and its various affiliates in the Ekati diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, as well as the associated diamond sorting and sales facilities in Yellowknife, Canada, and Antwerp, Belgium. The Ekati diamond mine consists of the Core Zone, which includes the current operating mine and other permitted kimberlite pipes, as well as the Buffer Zone, an adjacent area hosting kimberlite pipes having both development and exploration potential.
On March 26, Dominion Diamond had announced the sale of its luxury brand diamond jewelry and timepiece division, Harry Winston, Inc., to The Swatch Group Ltd. As part of the transaction, the company changed its name to Dominion Diamond Corp. from Harry Winston Diamond Corp. The sale and name change completed the transformation of the company into a focused diamond mining company. With the acquisition of BHP Billiton’s Ekati interest, Dominion Diamond now holds an 80% operating interest in Ekati and a 40% interest in the Diavik diamond mine, which is also located in the Northwest Territories.
Commenting on the Ekati purchase, Dominion Diamond Chairman and CEO Robert A. Gannicott said, “We are very pleased to be able to bring our northern mining background and diamond marketing skills to bear on a project that is well constructed, well-operated and well-endowed with resources that represent a promising future for shareholders, employees and northern stakeholders.”
The total purchase price for BHP Billiton’s Ekati interest was $553 million. Dominion Diamond said it would soon issue a detailed mine plan for Ekati.
The Ekati diamond mine is located 310 km northeast of Yellowknife and includes both open-pit and underground operations. It was Canada’s first diamond mine, having begun production in 1998, and remains Canada’s largest diamond mine. The mine is located near the Diavik diamond mine, where Rio Tinto is 60% owner.