Montreal School of Gemology - info-lettre-plus

E-Newsletter Plus 2009

A Report on the State of Canada’s Rough Diamond Production

In a presentation delivered at the Canadian Gemmological Association’s annual conference in October 2009, Mr. Ron C. Gashinski, chief gemmologist for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Mines and Minerals division, Diamond Sector Unit, shared some incredibly interesting facts and statistics concerning rough diamond production in Canada with a particular focus on the Victor mine in northern Ontario.


Despite the impact of the global economic crisis that has forced some mines to temporarily halt production, the future of rough diamonds looks bright. The demand for superior quality rough diamonds continues to outweigh the current supply.


Bearing this in mind, Canada is well positioned to become a leader in meeting the demands of the rough diamond market.  Canada is home to large areas of diamantiferous ancient cratonic rock and diamond bearing kimberlitic pipes that, to date, remain largely under exploited.  Diamond mines currently in active production in Canada include : Diavik (BHP Billiton), Ekati (Rio Tinto and Harry Winston), and Snap Lake (DeBeers) all located in the Northwest Territories as well as Victor mine (DeBeers) in northern Ontario. Other Canadian mines in the development stages include Gahcho Kue (NWT), Fort-a-la-Corne (Alberta), and Renard (Quebec). Diamond exploration is also being conducted in Nunavut.  


Canada’s rough diamond production is among the finest in the world (fourth) with regards to quality as evidenced by the statistics below.


The average price per carat for rough diamonds grouped by geographic origin :

Prices are in US funds

Lesotho  $879,97
Namibie   $376,99
Siera Leone  $266,05
Canada  $152,32


Within Canada, the Victor mine in Ontario is currently producing the highest quality rough with an average price of $419.00 per carat ranking it just below Lesotho. The lowest value for rough per carat is $12.93 found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


In 2008, Canada rough diamond production was valued at 2.25 billion US dollars. This figure places Canada in third position for total value behind Botswana with 3.27 billion and Russia with 2.50 billion.  Brazil was ranked the smallest value based producer of rough diamonds with a total production of 6 billion.



In 2008, Canada was ranked fifth in the world for rough diamond production by weight. 


 Russia  36 925 000 cts
 32 276 000 cts
 Botswana  32 276 000 cts 
 Australia  14 932 000 cts
 Canada  14 802 000 cts


Brazil had the smallest production categorized by weight at 80 000 cts.


The global production of rough diamonds by weight was 161 400 000 carats in 2008. Below, countries are ranked according to the percentage their respective production represents on a global scale.

Russia 22%
Congo  21%
Botswana    20%
Australia  9%
Canada  9%
South Africa  7%
Angola     5%
Namibia     1%
Others 5%


The value of global rough diamond production in 2008 was $12 599 000 000.00 US dollars. The following statistics rank diamond producing countries according to their respective percentages of the global value:

Botswana   26%
Russia  20%
Canada  18%
Angola 10%
South Africa 10%
Namibia 7%
Congo 3%
Others 4%


As in the Northwest Territories, diamonds from the Victor mine in Ontario are evaluated every five weeks to determine the amount of royalties that must be paid to the Crown.


Students who have taken EGM’s Rough Diamond Grading course, will appreciate the difficulties involved in accurately grading and pricing rough diamonds. There is no universally accepted system of classification and nomenclature or international pricing guide.  Mr. Gashinski explained that DeBeers has over 14 000 different categories it uses when sorting and grading rough diamonds.


Although Canada may rank among the top diamond producing countries, we only have four major diamond cutting facilities. They are : Arslanian Cutting Works in Yellowknife, NWT and Sudbury, Ont., HRA in Vancouver, and Crossworks Manufacturing that opened in August 2009.  In Canada, this side of the industry is relatively small compared to major cutting centres such as Israel or India where it is estimated that about 500 000 people are involved in the diamond cutting trade.  Approximately 45% of all diamonds sold in the United States are cut in India.  Other countries with diamond cutting facilities include Russia, China, the US, Naminia, South Africa, Botswana and Angola.


Following the model created in the Northwest Territories, Ontario has negotiated with DeBeers for a 10% share of the production value for the Victor mine. The Ontario provincial government will provide certification for diamonds both mined and cut in Ontario. Negotiations are ongoing in the hopes of establishing a diamond bourse in Toronto.


Mr. Gashinski’s presentation painted a picture of a sparkling future for rough diamond production in Ontario and Canada.



Odile Civitello


The Montreal School of Gemmology wishes to thank Mr. Ron Gashinski for assistance and his permission to reprint this material.