Calgary’s energy-focused economy may be facing its challenges, but the city was still a draw for multinational diamond miner De Beers, which moved its 67-person Canadian headquarters to the city from Toronto this summer—the highest-profile head office move between the two cities since Imperial Oil’s trek west in 2005. About to open the new Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories, De Beers decided Cowtown was a better logistical hub for its operations there and at the Victor mine in northern Ontario, as well as for exploration activities across the country, says De Beers Canada CEO Kim Truter.
“Toronto didn’t lend itself to supporting the whole of Canada,” Truter says. De Beers considered relocating to Yellowknife, Vancouver and Edmonton as well, he says. “We had a range of criteria that included being an attractive place to live and work where we could retain and attract skilled people, as well as having a competitive cost of doing business,” Truter says. The fact that office space was readily available at an attractive rate was a factor too. “When we went down that list Calgary ticked off most of the boxes,” he says.
Gahcho Kué will actually start producing six weeks ahead of schedule and the project has come in under budget in U.S. dollar terms, Truter says. The mine is expected to produce 54 million carats from 35 million tonnes of ore over its projected 12-year life. It will also support 1,400 jobs, mostly in NWT.
“Gahcho Kué is a star player. It’s the largest diamond mine under construction anywhere in the world,” Truter says. While some major mines have closed and other commodity plays have outshone diamonds over the past decade, Canada remains the third largest producer by value and fifth largest by volume globally.
“Canada is one of the best places to explore for diamonds,” Truter says. “We want to be a sustainable business here.”
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