Production at De Beers Group Victor Mine in northern Ontario has ended after 10 years and 10 months from the official inauguration in July 2008.
On May 26, the final economic ore was processed via the plant, followed by several days of low-grade ore and limestone to help wash out the plant for any remaining diamonds. Mining activities in the pit came to an end on March 5, when the mine shifted to processing the remaining surface stockpiles of ore. The plant will now go through a complete shutdown process by the end of June.
De Beers Group Exploration established Victor in 1987, turning out to be Canada’s first economically feasible diamond deposit discovery, almost five years before the diamond discoveries in the Northwest Territories. Since 2006, when the construction of the mine started, De Beers Group has spent $2.6 billion to construct and operate the mine, of which $820 million has reached Indigenous and local businesses in northern Ontario. Furthermore, De Beers Group has paid $110 million in royalties to the Government of Ontario and another $100 million in corporate social investment and payments to communities.
This is a bittersweet moment for our company as we celebrate the great work done by the Victor team that began when the mine opened and continued right up until the moment the conveyors stopped in the plant. This historic run has sadly now come to an end. Not only was this Ontario’s first and only diamond mine, Victor is the foundation for our company’s success in Canada and continued to demonstrate that strong performance to the very end as the team managed to extend production almost four months longer than originally expected.
Kim Truter, De Beers Group, Canada
The Victor Mine received over a dozen local, regional, national, and international awards for safety and business performance over the lifetime of the mine, including:
- 2009 International Mine of the Year from Mining Magazine
- 2010 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year
- Four straight John T. Ryan Awards for mine safety (2015 & 2016 National Awards and 2017 & 2018 Eastern Region Awards)
In the course of Q1, 2019, 8.1 million carats of diamonds have been recovered at Victor Mine, including record production of 936,000 carats in 2018. The final carat count involving April and May production will only be available in July when Q2 results are openly published.
As the production came to an end, De Beers Group used around 170 people at Victor Mine, who were supported by nearly 134 contractors.
The Victor team is like an extended family and everyone really pulled together during the past few months to take us safely over the finish line. Our first priority was to make sure that everyone finished work injury free, whether it was the mining team working in the confines of the bottom of the pit or the maintenance team achieving zero harm during the final plant shutdown.
Alistair Skinner, Manager – Operations, Victor Mine
Work on the remote fly-in/fly-out mine site in the James Bay Lowlands is now shifted to reclamation and formal closure. By the end of 2018, nearly 30% of the mine site had been reclaimed with more than 600,000 plants being planted since progressive reclamation started in 2014. In 2019, another 600,000 trees, shrubs, and grasses are thought to be planted on the mine site, around 200,000 of which will be grown using on-site greenhouse facilities at the mine. Reclamation of the mine site is estimated to be over by 2024.