Gahcho Kué mined nearly 600,000 mt during Q2 2023 and produced 1.34 million ct. (Photo: Mountain Province)

Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. reported Q2 2023 operating and sales results for the Gahcho Kué diamond mine, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The operation processed more than 750,000 metric tons (mt) of ore, roughly the same as Q2 2022, to recover 1.34 million carats (ct), 6% more than the 1.26 million ct in Q2 2022. The average grade increased 1.79 ct/mt, a 6% increase relative to Q2 2022 (1.68 ct/mt). The ore tonnage mined (595,990 mt) decreased 43% compared to Q2 2022 (1.04 million mt ore).

During mid-June, the company executed a planned 5-day major plant shutdown safely. Process equipment, which had been responsible for repeated unplanned downtime, was repaired and replaced, with strategies implemented to ensure reduced unplanned downtime going forward. The company said plant stability has benefitted from the shutdown, with throughput expected to ramp up during the second half of 2023.

“During the second quarter we saw quarter-on-quarter operational improvements across most operating metrics at the site,” said Mark Wall, president and CEO, Mountain Province. “While we are pleased to see this incremental improvement, there remains much work to be done to ensure that we are able to achieve planned mining and processing rates in a more sustainable way. We are working together with our JV partner to allow for more predictable outcomes.”

As mining transitions to greater waste stripping activities than planned in the Tuzo pit, Mountain Province has revised its 2023 guidance for ore tonnage mined. For the full year 2023, the company now expects to mine 3-3.6 million mt of ore compared to the previously announced 4.1-4.5 million mt of ore. Gahcho Kué has a sizeable ore stockpile (1.27 million mt grading 1.26 ct/mt or 1.59 million carats) and the company does not expect an interruption in diamond production.

During Q2 2023, Mountain Province sold 360,308 ct for C$59.9 million ($44.6 million), resulting in an average price of C$166/ct ($124/ct). In Q2 2022, the company sold 586,567 ct for C$97 million ($74.5 million) at an average price of C$165/ct ($129/ct). The year-on-year reduction in sales was attributed to three sales occurring in Q1 2023 rather than two.

“We were glad to see our sales performance stay resilient among some broader market turbulence,” Wall said.

Despite a softening of the broader rough diamond market in Q2 2023, Wall explained, the market for smaller goods, which make up the majority of Gahcho Kué goods, continues to show resilience and a more positive demand outlook. The company expects that Gahcho Kué’s production will continue to attract sustained market demand.

Mountain Province is a 49% participant with De Beers Canada in the Gahcho Kué joint venture property, which consists of several kimberlites that are actively being mined, developed, and explored for future development. The company also controls more than 113,000 hectares of highly prospective mineral claims and leases surrounding the Gahcho Kué mine.