Rio Tinto Commemorates Two Decades of Diavik Diamond Mine Operations in Canada


Rio Tinto marks 20 years of diamond production at its Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, which was discovered during the country’s largest mineral prospecting rush in the 1990s. Commercial production commenced in 2003, and Diavik has since generated over 140 million carats of rough diamonds using both surface and underground mining techniques. The mine primarily produces white gem-quality diamonds, with less than 1% being yellow diamonds, known for their Canadian origin, purity, and remarkable internal fire.

Sinead Kaufman, Chief Executive Minerals, praised the dedicated team responsible for Diavik’s safe and sustainable diamond production within one of the world’s most unspoiled ecosystems. She emphasized the mine’s continuous pursuit of innovation, technology, and sustainability.

Located 220 km from the Arctic Circle in the Barren Lands, the two billion-year-old Diavik diamonds lie beneath a frozen lake, necessitating exceptional resilience, skill, and technology for their extraction. The mine employs award-winning dike technology to protect the waters of Lac De Gras while relying on a seasonal ice road for the transportation of materials and the mine’s 1,100-strong workforce.

Diavik’s power supply comes from an award-winning wind farm that, on a windy day, covers half of the site’s energy requirements. Despite the mine’s remote location and extreme climate, the $31 million project has overcome transport, construction, and engineering challenges to become the world’s largest wind-diesel hybrid power facility, excelling in cold climate renewable energy production.

From its inception, Diavik has prioritized community engagement and collaboration with local indigenous groups. Angela Bigg, President of the Diavik diamond mine, emphasized the importance of these partnerships in earning the privilege to mine in the region.

These collaborations have led to significant employment, training, and capacity-building opportunities, with almost a quarter of Diavik’s workforce being Indigenous and 40% hailing from the North. Since 2000, the mine has spent $7 billion with Northern businesses, representing 72% of its total $9.8 billion expenditure. Of this amount, $3.6 billion has been invested in Northern Indigenous businesses and joint ventures.