Dominion Diamond has filed an application with the Wek’éezhii Land and Water Board requesting a new land use permit and a Class A Water License for extension of the Ekati diamond mine to include the Jay and Cardinal kimberlite pipes. 

The Ekati mine is located in the Lac de Gras region of Canada’s Northwest Territories, approximately 300 km northeast of Yellowknife. The Jay and Cardinal kimberlite pipes are located in Lac du Sauvage in the southeastern portion of the Ekati mine property, about 25 km from the main facilities and 7 km to the northeast of the company’s Misery mining area. The two pipes are located in the Buffer Zone joint venture, in which Dominion has a 58.8% interest. The company has an 80% interest in the Ekati core zone, which includes current operations.

The Jay-Cardinal project would be a major undertaking, with the potential to extend the operating life of the mine on the order of 10 to 20 years beyond the currently scheduled closure in 2019.

Detailed study work for the Jay-Cardinal project began immediately following Dominion’s acquisition of the Ekati mine on April 10. The application for a new land use permit and a Class A Water License represents the first stage in the regulatory approval process for the project.

At the Jay pipe, drilling to date has established 78 million carats (ct) of indicated resource and 13 million ct of inferred resource. Further work at Jay during the coming winter is designed to establish an open-pit reserve to support development of the project.

Scheduling for the Jay-Cardinal project anticipates environmental assessment approval before the end of 2015. Construction would then begin, leading to planned shipment of diamond-bearing kimberlite ore to the Ekati process plant by 2019.

Mining of the Jay and Cardinal kimberlite pipes would require two freshwater diversions around an area within Lac du Sauvage. The water would be drawn down to a level that exposes the two kimberlite pipes for open-pit mining. Underground mining is also planned. 

Diamond-bearing kimberlite would be trucked to the existing Ekati process plant using the existing Misery haul road. Processed kimberlite tailings would be deposited into mined-out open pits at the Ekati site such that environmental disturbances related to expanding or constructing new deposition areas would be avoided. 

Dominion has started work on a pre-feasibility study for the Jay-Cardinal project, with completion planned for 2014.