The EKATI Diamond Mine ("EKATI") is Canada's first surface and underground diamond mine. It is located 310 kilometres (190 mi) north-east of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and about 200 kilometres (120 mi) south of the Arctic circle, near Lac de Gras. EKATI is a joint venture between BHP Billiton Canada Inc. (80%), and the two geologists who discovered kimberlite pipes north of Lac de Gras, Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson each holding a 10% stake in the mine.
The first volcanic pipe found in the Lac de Gras region was the Point Lake kimberlite, discovered by Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson who had been prospecting in the region for almost ten years, having found kimberlite indicator minerals as early as 1985. The Point Lake kimberlite was determined to be uneconomic, but its discovery precipitated one of largest staking rushes in mining history, covering most of the area between Yellowknife and the Arctic coast. There are 156 known kimberlite pipes within the EKATI block of claims, including the Point Lake pipe. EKATI officially began operations on October 14, 1998, and is operated by BHP Billiton Canada Inc., a part of the BHP Billiton Group, the World's largest diversified resources company.
Diamonds at the EKATI site are found in 45 to 62 million year old kimberlite pipes (Creaser et al., 2004) of the Lac de Gras kimberlite field, most of which lie underneath shallow lakes.
Mining And Marketing:
Between 1998 and 2009, the mine has produced 45 million carats (8,000 kg / 17,636 lb) of diamonds out of six open pits. As the high grade ore close to surface was depleted, development was completed to access the ore utilizing underground methods. Currently, there is one underground operation (Koala) with open-cut mining occurring in Fox Pit. Diamonds from the EKATI Mine are sold under the trade name Aurias. Authenticity is verified through the CanadaMark service, also operated by BHP Billiton Canada Inc.