The Diavik Diamond Mine is a diamond mine in the North Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada, about 300 kilometres (190 mi) north of Yellowknife. It has become an important part of the regional economy, employing 700, grossing C$100 million in sales, and producing approximately 7.5 million carats (1,500 kg (3,300 lb)) of diamonds annually. The area was surveyed in 1992 and construction began in 2001, with production commencing in January 2003. It is connected by an ice road and Diavik Airport with a 5,235 ft (1,596 m) gravel runway regularly accommodating Boeing 737 jet aircraft.
Diavik Diamond Mine is an industrial complex and town in one, set in a remote, sub-Arctic landscape. In the 2013 satellite image below, you can see the two main open pits, waste rock piles, and an airstrip capable of landing aircraft as large as 737s and C-130s. The complex also houses processing plants, fuel tanks, water and sewage processing facilities, administrative buildings, and accommodations for workers and other residents.
The mine is owned by a joint venture between the Dominion Diamond Corporation and Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Group. The lifespan of the mine is expected to be 16 to 22 years.
The mine consists of three kimberlite pipes associated with the Lac de Gras kimberlite field and is located on an island 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi) in Lac de Gras and is informally called East Island. It is about 220 km (140 mi) south of the Arctic Circle.
In 2006 the ice road from Yellowknife to the Diavik mine, and neighbouring mines, froze late and thawed early. The Diavik mine was unable to truck in all the supplies needed for the rest of 2006 before the road closed and arrangements had to be made to bring the remainder of the supplies in by air.
On July 5, 2007 a consortium of seven mining companies, including Rio Tinto, announced they are sponsoring environmental impact studies to construct a deep-water port in Bathurst Inlet. Their plans include building a 211 km (131 mi) road connecting the port to their mines. The port would serve vessels of up to 25,000 tonnes.
In March 2010, underground mining began at the mine. The transition from open pit to underground mining is expected to be completed by 2012.