Ten years and ten months after the official opening in July 2008, production at De Beers Group Victor Mine in northern Ontario has come to an end. On May 26, the last of the economic ore was processed through the plant, followed by several days of low-grade ore and limestone to help purge the plant of any remaining diamonds. Mining activities in the pit ended on March 5, when the mine switched to processing the remaining surface stockpiles of ore. The plant will now undergo a comprehensive shutdown process through the end of June.
De Beers Group Exploration discovered Victor in 1987, becoming Canada’s first economically viable diamond deposit discovery, nearly five years ahead of the diamond discoveries in the Northwest Territories. Since construction of the mine began in 2006, De Beers Group has spent $2.6 billion to build and operate the mine, of which $820 million has gone to Indigenous and local businesses in northern Ontario. In addition, 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,” said Kim Truter, De Beers Group, Canada.
“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.”
The Victor Mine captured more than a dozen local, regional, national and international awards for safety and business performance over the life of the mine, including the 2010 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year and four straight John T. Ryan Awards for mine safety (2015 & 2016 National Awards and 2017 & 2018 Eastern Region Awards).
Through Q1 of 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 including April and May production will only be available in July when second quarter results are publicly reported. When production ended, De Beers Group employed approximately 170 people at Victor Mine, who were supported by approximately 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,” said Alistair Skinner, Manager – Operations, Victor Mine. “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.”
Work on the remote fly-in/fly-out mine site in the James Bay Lowlands now shifts to reclamation and formal closure. Through the end of 2018, close to 30% of the mine site had been reclaimed with over 600,000 plants being planted since progressive reclamation began in 2014. This year, another 600,000 trees, shrubs and grasses are expected to be planted on the mine site, over 200,000 of which will be propagated using on-site greenhouse facilities at the mine. Reclamation of the mine site is expected to be complete by 2024.