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Mountain Province Diamonds reported lower production at the Gahcho Kué Mine in the first quarter of 2021 due to adverse weather conditions and a shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The mine closed on Feb. 6 after six presumptive cases of coronavirus were identified at the site. Operations resumed at the end of that month.

The mine is a joint venture with global mining giant De Beers, with that company holding 51 per cent ownership and Mountain Province holding 49 per cent.

40 per cent drop

In a news release Tuesday, Mountain Province reported a 40 per cent decrease in the total amount mined – including ore and waste. The volume decreased to 5.6 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2021 from 9.35 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2020.

The total amount of ore tonnes mined fell by half when comparing the two quarters, dropping to 515,002 tonnes from just over 1 million tonnes.

The amount of carats recovered dropped to 1.39 million from 1.65 million.

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The lower figures resulted from the 22-day operational shut down in February and the subsequent restart of operations during one of the coldest months. This “contributed to a lower-than-expected equipment availability, which combined with manpower availability issues and a higher-than-average incidence of extreme weather events resulted in lower than expected production for the quarter,” the company said.

Carat values up by six per cent

However, in the first quarter of 2021, a total of 602,773 carats were sold, yielding total revenues of $54.2 million, with carat values rising by six per cent – to $90 per carat, from $85 per carat – relative to the fourth quarter of 2020.

Mountain Province president and CEO Stuart Brown said the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak at the mine were unfortunate.

“This highlights the ease with which the virus can spread. Pleasingly, the plant has continued to perform well and we are starting to catch up on the carat production deficit. This, together with the continued price increases seen as well as the relative stability in the markets, is encouraging. With global vaccination rates increasing, we’re beginning to see a path to a return to normalcy, and with it the potential for continued diamond market recovery.”

Figures for De Beers’ quarterly results at Gahcho Kué weren’t available as the company doesn’t publish mine-specific sales information, said spokesperson Terry Kruger.

Its production statistics are issued quarterly in joint releases with De Beers’ majority shareholder Anglo American plc Group. Its next report is scheduled for April 22.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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