The first finds of diamonds in Canada were registered in 1920, when a stone with 33 carats weight was found during the building of a railroad between Ottawa and Toronto near Peterborough. However, the quality of the stone turned out to be poor. It was not until the 1960s that serious diamond exploration began in Canada, and the first kimberlites were discovered, although the potential had long been suspected. At present, several districts of kimberlite development are known in Canada: eastern provinces (Ontario, Québec), Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan. At the extreme northern point of Canada, kimberlites were found on Somerset Island, at over 70° N. Dressing of samples from the Betty, Ham, Alvil, and Diapros pipes with an overall amount of 414 tons yielded only a few small diamonds, and works on the island were stopped.

The area of an ancient craton to the east from Mackenzie River was chosen as a prospective district in the Northwest Territories. The idea of prospecting diamonds in this district belongs to a geologist Chack Phipke, who was engaged in prospecting rare minerals. In recent years, several scores of kimberlite pipes were found within the Northwest Territories; two-thirds of them are situated under lakes. Two or three pipes with a commercial percentage of diamonds reaching 4 carats were found among the new open pipes. Ekati Mine in the Northwest Territories, Canada's first diamond mine, opened in 1998, and diamond polishing has been established as a business in Yellowknife.

Experts consider that Canada will become the leading diamond exploiting country at the beginning of the 21st century. Favorable geological conditions (the biggest craton in the world) and heavy investments in prospecting serve as premises for such a prediction. The area is not yet explored as thoroughly as Southern Africa and many other cratonic areas, but the infrastructures and political situation are the best in the world. Approximately 150 kimberlite layers (many of which are diamond-bearing) and six pipes (which, according to preliminary evaluations, contain diamonds at a commercial scale) were found within 5 years following the discovery of the first kimberlite pipe in the Great Slave Lake district, Northwest Territories. Most of these are of very high quality. There is interest in exploring diamonds in the Flin Flon district, Manitoba. Saskatchewan province is a vast region with numerous aeromagnetic anomalies and considerable congestions of indicator minerals, and has a vast potential for the discovery of economically significant diamond deposits. Kimberlites are also found in Ontario, Alberta, Québec, and on the western coast of Hudson Bay; nevertheless, the discovery of kimberlites in the Point Lake district in 1991 turned out to be the greatest event in Canadian mining history.

However, diamonds are explored not only in Canada and Russia. Ashton Mining company announced the discovery of two kimberlite fields in Finland, including 17 diamond-bearing pipes. Finland's Achean craton area is of a size similar to that of the Slave Craton in Canada, and could have similar potential. The Karelian Craton in northwestern Europe already hosts the Arkhangel'sk kimberlite pipes.

S.V. Abramova

Further Reading

Bielawski, E., Rogue Diamonds. The Rush for Northern Riches on Dene Land, Vancouver: Douglas and Macintyre, 2003 Dukarev, V.P., Sur'evaya baza almazov AK "ALROSA" i per-spektivu ee razvitia//Obrazovanie. Obshestvo. Tehnicheskiy progress (Sbornik dokladov i tezisov) [Raw stock of diamonds of Joint Stock Company "ALROSA" and prospects of its development // Education. Society. Technical progress (Books of reports and theses) ] Mirniy, 1999 Kharkiv, A.D., N.N. Zinchuk & A.I. Kruchkov, Korennue mestorozhdenia almazov mira [Native deposits of world diamonds], Moscow, 1998 LeCheminant, A.N., D.G. Richardson, R.N.W. DiLabio & K.A. Richardson (editors), Searching for Diamonds in Canada, Geological Survey of Canada, 1996 Pell, J.A., "Kimberlites in the Slave Craton, Northwest Territories, Canada." Geoscience Canada, 24(2) (1997): 77-96

Tichotsky, J., Russia's Diamond Colony: The Republic of Sakha, Amsterdam and Newark, New Jersey: Harwood Academic, 2000

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