It officially began production in October 1998, following extensive exploration and development work dating back to 1981. Like Diavik, the Ekati mine site is located in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories, approximately 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife.
The Company operates the Ekati Diamond Mine in which it owns a controlling interest. Over the mine’s early years, production was focused on six open pits and two underground operations. The current Reserves Base Case Mine Plan is based on production from six kimberlite pipes: Misery Main, Pigeon, Sable, Lynx and Jay open pits, and Koala underground operations. Currently, Koala, Misery Main, Pigeon and Lynx pipes are being mined. Mining has not yet commenced at the Sable or Jay pipes. In addition, the Misery South and Southwest satellite material is being excavated as part of the Misery Main mining operations. This material is being stockpiled separately and is planned to be processed through the Ekati plant as a supplement to the Reserve Base Case Mine Plan, which we refer to as the Operating Base Case Mine Plan. The Ekati process plant has the capacity to process 4.3 million tonnes per year. Additional feed from Coarse Ore Rejects will be used to supplement mined ore. This material is not included in the reserves or resources and is therefore incremental to production.
Jay was approved for construction by the Company in July 2016 and is the most significant undeveloped deposit at Ekati due to its large size and high grade and extends the mine life by approximately 10 years to 2033. The Company’s timetable for the development of Jay assumes the start of road construction in 2017, dike construction in 2018-2020, dewatering and start of pre-stripping in 2021, and mining and processing of Jay kimberlite by late 2022.
As of January 31, 2017, the Ekati Mine is reported to contain 26.0 million carats of probable reserves in the Core Zone and 79.4 million carats of probable reserves in the Buffer Zone for a total of 105.4 million carats of total probable reserves (on a 100% basis).