I began my civil engineering career in Yellowknife, the tiny capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. At that time, 25 years ago, employment at the territorial government and two gold mines sustained the local economy. Late every afternoon my downtown office building shook as they blasted rock deep in the stopes a mile below, in readiness for the next shift. Then the gold mines closed, but fortuitously many miners found jobs at two diamond mines developed in the early 2000s.
Although a geologist named Charles Fipke announced the first astonishing find of diamonds in Canada’s far north in 1991 and became a very rich man, three years later the young, beautiful Eira Thomas catapulted to heroine status, at least in the mining sector, with her discovery of one of the richest diamond deposits in the world. A documentary entitled Queen of Diamonds and Matthew Hart’s book Diamond describe how Eira’s exploration crew drilled a kimberlite core that split to reveal an embedded two carat rough diamond – an incredible fluke1 which eventually led to the construction of the Diavik Diamond Mine on that very site.
Canada’s Diavik, Ekati, Jericho and Snap Lake mines will produce billions of dollars worth of high grade diamonds. Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. has a wonderful visitor centre that was the source of much information used in creating the fictional Ptarmigan Mine in my forthcoming romantic suspense release, Diamond Lust.
1.Kimberlite drill core would generally contain only garnet and other minerals that might indicate the presence of diamonds. Think of the drill as a tiny pipe that is pushed into a huge bowl of berry-studded gelatine and pulled out filled with a thin cylinder of the content. The probability of the pipette picking up a piece of fruit is low. Similarly, it is extremely unlikely that a drill core would contain a diamond.