One of the world’s biggest diamond mines opens — in remote Canada

OTTAWA — De Beers, the company whose name has been synonymous with the diamond trade since its founding in South Africa by Cecil Rhodes in the 1880s, is opening the world’s largest new diamond mine in a decade —in Canada’s Far North.

The $1 billion Gahcho Kué mine becomes Canada’s fifth operating diamond mine, reflecting the global search for new resources to replace mines in southern Africa that are being slowly depleted and to meet a desire among consumers for “clean diamonds” untainted by the wars and human rights abuses that have given the business a bad name.

“It’s very difficult to find a very substantial new diamond mine,” Bruce Cleaver, chief executive of De Beers, said in a telephone interview from Calgary, Alberta, where De Beers’s Canadian subsidiary is based.

Cleaver agrees that consumers are “more and more interested in ethical sourcing” of diamonds, and he insists that De Beers provides buyers with a guarantee that all of its gems are produced in conformity with the highest standards. That is particularly important in the U.S. market, which accounts for 45 percent of demand for the world’s $79 billion jewelry market.

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Editor's note: EthicMark GEMS does not support any mining of gemstones. Despite DeBeers claim "that all of its gems are ethically sourced," the entire gem and jewelry industry needs to look closely at all the environmental, social and governance factors associated with diamond mining.

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