Diamonds in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Diamonds in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Canada is the third-largest producer of diamonds in the world

This blog has been edited due to Bill C-59

Did you know that Canada is the world's third-largest producer of diamonds? Canadian diamonds are some the most sought-after globally because of their conflict-free nature – unlike those sourced from many other parts of the world.

Our diamond producers are revered for their pledge to quality. Canadian diamonds are laser inscribed with a unique identification number and a maple leaf to guarantee their authenticity and describe the stone's pedigree.

Much has changed since the first diamond-bearing rock was discovered in Canada in the 1990s. To celebrate Canada's rise to the top as a major global producer, we’ve compiled a list of facts on diamonds in Canada for you below. Also see:

11 Canadian Diamond Mining Facts

rough diamonds in canada facts

#1 – Canada was the world’s third-largest producer of diamonds in 2022, despite production being down by 8.97% versus 2021 [1]

#2 – Canada accounts for 14% of global production, with the largest producers being Russia, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa [1]

#3 - Canada is home to four major diamond mines, including [1]:

• Gahcho Kue Project – Northwest Territories
• Diavik Mine – Northwest Territories
• Ekati Diamond Mine – Northwest Territories
• Renard Mine - Quebec

#4 - Canada’s diamond exports were valued at $2.21 billion in 2019 [2]

#5 - Canadian mines produce very high quality diamonds versus elsewhere, providing a tremendous advantage for mining companies in the country [4]

#6 - Diamond mining began in Canada in 1991, when two geologists, Stewart Blusson and Chuck Fipke, found evidence of diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes about 200 miles north of Yellowknife, NWT. One of these pipes was developed into the Ekati Diamond Mine [4]

#7 - Ekati Diamond Mine produced Canada’s first commercial diamonds in 1998 [4]

#8 - By 2006, Canada was home to three major mines producing more than 13 million carats of gem-quality diamonds annually, making the country the third-largest producer in the world [4]

#9 - Many diamonds mined and cut in Canada are graded and have their certificate number laser-inscribed on their girdle along with a trade logo such as a maple leaf, polar bear, Canada-mark symbol, or the words “Ice on Fire,” ensuring consumers can connect the diamond to its certificate [4]

#10 - About 20% of global diamond production by weight is used for jewellery; the other 80% is applied in various industrial and research applications where the unique properties of diamonds are required [2]

#11 - Northern Canada’s diamonds formed deep within the earth more than one billion years ago;  volcanic eruptions of molten rock, which occurred roughly 55 million years ago in Canada’s remote tundra, brought these precious gems to the surface [3]

Where are Diamonds Found in Canada?

Diamond mine locations Canada

Canadian Diamond Mines - Natural Resources Canada

Canadian mines produced 18.6 million carats of rough diamonds valued at $2.25 billion in 2019, with three out of four operations located in the Northwest Territories. Canada's four operating mines include:

  • The Ekati Diamond Mine - Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories
  • The Diavik Diamond Mine - Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories
  • The Gahcho Kué Diamond - Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
  • Renard Mine - Jamésie, Quebec

Diamonds are said to be found in ancient portions of the earth's rock mantle. Like South Africa, Canada is underlain by a huge craton known as "archon," consisting of rocks older than 2500 million years [5]. According to global studies of the distribution of diamond-bearing kimberlites, these types of rocks are mainly found within ancient cratons such as the ones that underlay parts of Canada.

New diamond mind deposits are now being discovered across Canada's vast territories. One of the latest is a rich deposit of both gold and diamonds and is located near the Arctic coast, about 155 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk in Nunavut [6].

What are Diamonds Used For?

uses of diamonds in real life

Today, roughly 20 per cent of the world's diamond production is used in jewellery. But not what many people know is that a majority of these prized gems (~80 per cent) are used in various industrial and research applications.

Diamonds have one of the highest thermal conductivities of any material on the planet. As a result, diamonds are used as a heat sink (or a heat transfer mechanism) in electronic devices such as computers and diode lamps to protect sensitive electronic parts from overheating. Diamonds are also used in drill bits and saw blades to aid cutting through hard materials.

Other uses of diamonds include [7]:

  • Cancer treatments
  • Cavity treatments
  • Beauty treatments
  • Bioimaging
  • Polishing tools
  • Industrial tools
  • Computer semi-conductors
  • DJ mixers
  • Sound speakers
  • Bionic eye implants
  • Military uses
  • Glass shaping
  • Window production
  • Super lasers
  • Surgical tools
  • Smartphones

History of Diamonds in Canada

diavik diamond mine canada

Diavik Mine - Natural Resources Canada

Diamond mining in Canada didn't start until all that long ago. Here is a short but sweet historical timeline of diamond mining in Canada:

1899 – Professor W. H. Hobbs argues that diamonds near the Great Lakes were carried down from the northern regions from Canada

1991 – The first major discovery of diamonds in Canada occurs at Point Lake near Lac de Gras in the Northwest Territories, ~300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife

1998 – In October, diamonds were mined for the first time in Canada at the Ekati mine near Lac de Gras

2003 – In January, the Diavik mine, located about 35 kilometres southeast from Ekati began production. Diavik makes Canada the third-largest diamond producer.

2006 – Jericho, Nunavut's first diamond mine, begins operations in August.

2010 – Diavik begins underground mining, ceasing open pit mining by 2012.

Present – Canada remains the third-largest producer of diamonds in the world, with more potential development of diamond deposits to come

Since the 1990s, there have been eight diamond mines in Canada. Four are currently operational, three are closed, and one is classified as an advanced project. Canadian diamond mines of the past include Jericho, Victor, Gahcho Kue, and Snap Lake.

Sustainable Diamond Mining in Canada

Canadian minerals production by value in 2021

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