Peregrine reports rich diamond grades at Chidliak site near Iqaluit
"One of the highest grade kimberlites in the world”
A kimberlite pipe called CH-6, part of the Chidliak diamond exploration project near Iqaluit, could contain a grade of 2.7 carats per tonne, one of the richest in the world, Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. announced Dec. 3.
“This first batch of diamond results from our 2013 bulk sample establish CH-6 as one of the highest grade kimberlites in the world,” Peregrine chief executive officer Eric Friedland said in a news release.
By noon Dec. 3, the company’s stock price had shot up by nearly 55 per cent following the bulk sample announcement.
Peregrine’s findings are based on the recent recovery of diamonds from a 221.1 tonne dried sample processed at the Saskatchewan Research Council.
It’s part of a 508 tonne bulk sample extracted from CH-6 in April and June of 2013, which was reduced to 404.2 dry tonnes after losing its moisture content.
Recovery results from a second, 182.1-tonne dry sample have been fast-tracked and will likely be announced in January 2014, Peregrine said.
Within the first batch, Peregrine found 48 diamonds greater than one carat in size and 137 diamonds great than half a carat.
The largest stone weighed in at 3.54 carats.
Howard Coopersmith, an independent expert hired by Peregrine to analyze the recovery process, said these results are consistent with findings revealed from a smaller 40-carat sample extracted in 2010.
“Overall this is a very white and clean diamond population with excellent shapes. A significant number of stones, notable in the larger sizes, are sharp octahedra [eight-sided stones] of the highest colour and clarity and should command top prices in the market,” Coopersmith said in the Peregrine release.
The company said that at 2.7 carats per tonne, Chidliak’s bulk sample grade is higher than any other kimberlite pipe under advance exploration in Canada.
And they said it’s surpassed only by the grades found at five kimberlite pipes in the Lac de Gras district of the Northwest Territories.
These bulk sample findings represent the beginning of work aimed at proving the economic viability of a potential diamond mine at Chidliak, but the company still has a lot to do.
Over the first three months of 2014, once the second dry sample has been analyzed, Peregrine will commission an independent valuation of the combined parcel extracted in 2013 to find out how much it’s worth.
They will combine that information with data from earlier core samples taken in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to calculate a resource estimate for the site and a preliminary revenue model.
“This work is the first important step towards establishing economic viability for the project,” the company said.
Friedland said the company will step up its drilling programs in 2014 and 2015 to move the project closer to the feasibility study stage.
This past October, the company decided to advance the Peregrine project on its own following a decision by De Beers Canada Ltd. to reject a potential joint venture that they had the option of entering under an earlier deal.
De Beers, now owned by the mining giant Anglo-American PLC, did go ahead with another joint venture in the NWT — the Gahcho Kue diamond mine in the NWT, a joint venture between De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.