After years of fruitless exploration, diamonds have been discovered in Manitoba for the first time in history.
Together, the Manitoba Geological Survey and a group of prospectors called the Lynx Consortium have found small microdiamonds, gems less than 1 millimeter in diameter, in the province’s Knee Lake region near the First Nations community of Oxford House.
The discovery was announced at this year’s Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference, held in Toronto from March 5 to 8.
Ruth Bezys, president of the Manitoba Prospectors & Developers Association (MPDA), said the find is exciting for the province as it is the first publicly reported diamond discovery in Manitoba.
She can’t say exactly how many diamonds were found, but noted that possibly a “handful” of the gems were unearthed, and “maybe more.” She added, “the diamonds that they found are probably not worth a lot, but there could be enough that you could make a mine out of it.”
Given that diamonds have been mined in Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, geologists have long suspected that there could be deposits in Manitoba.
But as mentioned, until now explorers have not been successful. Almost 15 years ago, a brief flurry of diamond exploration in the province came up empty. It cost about $3.5 million and involved some of the diamond space’s major players.
International mining company Kennecott, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO), did exploratory drilling in 2001. De Beers, owned by Anglo American (LSE:AAL) and BHP Minerals, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT), have also done aerial exploration of the region.
Bezys said that now that diamonds have been found, exploration may begin again.
“The area of the diamond discovery is within the general area that was previously explored, but a better geological understanding of the area has opened up new possibilities for renewed exploration,” she commented.
The next phase of the work will require deeper exploration and will cost millions of dollars, but Bezys believes that there will be companies interested in taking on that work.
And while the Manitoba government has stressed that the discovery is preliminary, with no guarantees that it will lead to any mining, it has also emphasized that the province is open for business.
Cliff Cullen, the province’s minister of growth, enterprise and trade, commented at PDAC, “[t]he world’s mining sector is taking notice of Manitoba’s mineral resource potential and our business and investment-friendly environment.”
He added, “[o]ur government is very pleased by these recent developments and will continue to create the welcoming conditions necessary for the attraction of investment in our mineral resources.”
“We, at the MPDA, and as Manitobans hope that this happens. This government has stressed that Manitoba is open for business and the Manitoba Geological Survey is very much involved in the discovery of this play,” Bezys said.
Manitoba is currently home to several metals mining operations that contribute about $1.5 billion to the provincial economy. That equates to about 2.7 percent of the province’s GDP.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.