Canadian mining and natural resources company Star Diamond has discovered an “unusually high proportion” of rare Type IIa diamonds from samples taken at its Fort a la Corne drill site in central Saskatchewan.
The exploration, which is a joint venture project with Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, was conducted to determine the area’s viability for diamond mining.
The samples were part of the Trench Cutter diamond packages recovered from the Early Joli Fou geological units of the Star Kimberlite and were found to contain a significant number of diamonds of various sizes ranging from 0.18 carats to over 15 carats each.
The largest sample of Type IIa diamonds weighs 16.96 carats and has an estimated value of US$110,240 (AU$152,430).
According to George Read, Star Diamond’s Senior Technical Advisor, “The presence of a significant proportion of Type IIa diamonds recovered from Star Kimberlite by the Trench Cutter greatly increases the potential for recovery of large diamonds (over 100 carats), at high value for diamonds from a future mine.
Read explained that the discovery of the high-value white diamonds “significantly strengthens the potential future price of Star Kimberlite diamonds” and shows evidence that mining operations could continue, although no official announcement has yet been released. .
In 2019, Rio Tinto began exploration by drilling and digging 10 trenches where the bulk samples were taken.
Type IIa diamonds are classified as stones with almost no presence of impurities, have the highest thermal conductivity and are considered chemically pure diamonds.
They make up around 1-2% of unearthed natural diamonds, second only to the more valuable and much rarer Type IIb diamonds.
Only a number of mines produce Type IIa diamonds in the world, the most popular of which are the Letseng mine in Lesotho and the Karowe mine in Botswana – both countries are in South Africa.
As stated previously in JewelerRio Tinto and Star Diamond Corp settled their longstanding dispute over the Star-Orion South diamond mine in Canada in December 2021, ending a year-long legal battle.
The legal row began in March 2020, with Star Diamond accusing the British-Australian conglomerate of breaching the terms of the joint venture agreement.
In a statement marking the end of the dispute, Rio Tinto’s head of exploration, Dave Andrews, said: “We are very pleased to now be working in cooperation with Star Diamond on a diamond project which we believe has the potential to be a significant contributor to both the local communities around the Fort a la Corne property and the broader Saskatchewan economy.
The diamond mine is expected to extract 66 million carats over its expected 38-year lifespan, generating around C$3.3 billion (A$3.61 billion) and is expected to employ 700 people over that period. .
Rio Tinto’s diamond production declines as it leaves Australia
Rio Tinto diamond mine legal battle settled