Work wraps up on Nunavut diamond mine project for 2013; now the wait begins
De Beers Canada has until Dec. 31 to decide on Peregrine joint-venture option
(Updated Sept. 10, 2:08 p.m.)
Exploration work planned for 2013 has come to an end at the Chidliak project, operated by Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. about 120 kilometres from Iqaluit.
The Chidliak summer exploration program operated by De Beers Canada Inc. was completed on Aug. 19.
Highlights included the discovery of two new kimberlites and the discovery of a kimberlite dyke by government geologists, Peregrine reported in a Sept. 9 news releae.
In addition, possible signs of kimberlite deposits were found in numerous other locations, the company said.
Now about 470 wet tonnes of bulk sample material is at the De Beers facility in Sudbury, Ont., where De Beers — which may decide to develop Chidliak with Peregrine — will start processing 250 wet tonnes of this material in late September.
The remainder of the bulk sample will be processed at a later date.
The Vancouver-based diamond exploration company formed a partnership with De Beers in September 2012 to help finance the project and share developmental risks.
That deal gives De Beers an option to enter into a joint venture agreement with Peregrine that would eventually give De Beers majority ownership of the Chidliak property.
De Beers has until the end of 2013 to exercise that option.
Peregrine president Brooke Clements said that the company will not begin the diamond recovery process until after De Beers makes their decision.
“We are only implementing the first phase of processing prior to them making their decision. In the first phase, no information on the diamond grade or diamond quality will be generated. So, De Beers has to make their decision without knowing the diamond results,” Clements said in an email.
Peregrine’s former partner, BHP Billiton, walked away from the diamond industry in 2011 and Peregrine bought BHP’s 51 per cent interest in the Chidliak property.
In April, Clements and Tom Peregoodoff, executive vice-president of Peregrine, gave Iqaluit City Council an update that evening on the diamond mine that might one day be operational — if bulk tests for diamond quality are confirmed.