Diamonds in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

diamond mining in Canada facts

Did you know that according to the most recent figures, Canada is the world's third-largest producer of rough diamonds by both volume and value?! 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.

Canadian diamond producers are revered for their pledge to quality and commitment to sustainability. 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 compiled a list of facts on diamonds in Canada for you to check out below.

12 Canadian Diamond Mining Facts

rough diamonds in canada facts

#1 - In 2019, Canada was the world's third-largest producer of rough diamonds by value (12.5 per cent of world production) and volume (13.5 per cent of world production). (NRCAN)

#2 - Canada's total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.21 billion in 2019. (NRCAN)

#3 - Approximately 20 per cent of the world's production by weight is used for jewellery. (NRCAN)

#4 - Over one billion years ago, diamonds in what we call modern-day Canada formed deep within the earth. (Government of the Northwest Territories)

#5 - Most diamonds are yellow, brown, and black. The rarest of all diamond colours is white – also known as colourless. (Government of the Northwest Territories)

#6 – Canadian diamonds are sought out by many of the world's finest jewellers. (Government of the Northwest Territories)

#7 - The largest diamond found in Canada was at the Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories. Dominion Diamonds billed the 552.74-carat yellow diamond as the largest diamond ever found in North America. (CBC)

#8 - The cost of the Canadian diamond is slightly more expensive on average than those from other jurisdictions. (Government of the Northwest Territories)

#9 - As of 2021, there are currently four diamond mines operational in Canada. (NRCAN)

#10 - Most Canadian diamonds are exported to India, Belgium and Botswana. (NRCAN)

#11 - Canadian diamonds are laser inscribed with a unique identification number and a maple leaf to guarantee Canadian authenticity. (Gem Society)

#12 - There are no internationally set prices for rough gem-quality diamonds, as there are for many other commodities such as gold. (NRCAN)

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 mantel. Like South Africa, Canada is underlain by a huge craton known as "archon," consisting of rocks older than 2500 million years. 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.

What are the Uses of Diamonds?

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:

  • 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 diamond mining facts v2

Canada's world-class record on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) means that Canadian diamonds are produced under one of the world's most stringent, transparent and environmentally responsible regulatory regimes.

Canada's mining sector is recognized as a global leader in sustainability and safety practices by operating under the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative. The TSM's main objective is to enable mining companies to meet societal needs for minerals, metals and energy products in the most socially, environmentally, and economically responsible way possible.

Where would you choose to get your next diamond from? Would it be from "conflict-free" nations such as Canada, or nations elsewhere in the world that don't share the same exemplary ESG performance?

Join Us Today!

canada action blog mining energy banner

Join us to support the 700,000+ workers across Canada who rely on the sector to provide for their families. As a global leader in ESG performance, it only makes sense that the materials the world needs come from the most sustainable producers around!

Learn more about Canada's world-class record on sustainable natural resource production by joining us online at TwitterInstagram and Facebook today – we hope to see you there!

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