March 1st, 2024

Rio Tinto says Diavik diamond mine employees were on crashed NWT plane

By Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press on January 24, 2024.

The plane that crashed Tuesday near Fort Smith, N.W.T. was on its way to Rio Tinto's Diavik Diamond Mine. The mine is one of four operating diamond mines in Canada. Lac de Gras surrounds the Diavik mine pit about 300 km northeast of Yellowknife, N.W.T. on July 19, 2003. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The plane that crashed Tuesday near Fort Smith, N.W.T. was on its way to Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine. The mine is one of four operating diamond mines in Canada.

The Diavik mine is located 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife and 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. It sits on a 20-square-kilometre island within a lake called Lac De Gras. Due to its remote location, workers at the mine site commute to the island by plane.

As of November 2023, the mine had 1,230 employees, according to Rio Tinto’s website. Approximately 17 per cent of its workforce in 2021 was Northern Indigenous people.

The mine produces diamonds from three kimberlite pipes through an open pit method. In 2020, it produced 6.2 million carats of rough diamonds.

Rio Tinto has been the sole owner of the mine since 2021, when it acquired the 40 per cent share held by Dominion Diamond Mines.

Rio Tinto is a global mining giant that operates in 35 countries. In Canada, it also mines for aluminum, iron ore and titanium dioxide.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.

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