• Jay project could add at least a decade to Ekati mine’s life
  • Economic feasibility study on Jay expected later this month

Canada’s Northwest Territories has signed off on an environmental assessment of a project planned by Dominion Diamond Corp. that would extend the life of Canada’s oldest diamond mine.

The Jay project has the potential to add a decade or more to the life of the Ekati mine, the Toronto-based company said in a statement late Thursday. Dominion expects to publish a feasibility study on Jay later this month.

“It’s probably 10 years of open pit and the potential for significantly more life underground,” Dominion Chief Executive Officer Brendan Bell said in a telephone interview from Yellowknife on Thursday before the news was released. “Jay is the anchor for future mine life at Ekati, clearly.”

Ekati, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northeast of Yellowknife, began production in 1998, the first diamond mine to operate in Canada. Without Jay, the mine is expected to close in 2020.

“We’re very pleased that Jay Pipe has passed their regulatory approval process,” Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, said by phone Friday from Yellowknife. “If they’re productive, as we believe they are, Ekati will extend its mine life by at least 11 years.”

Dominion fell 1.3 percent to C$13.28 at 11:52 a.m. in Toronto. The shares have declined 6.1 percent this year.

Meanwhile, a strategic review of the company continues by financial adviser Rothschild & Co., announced in December. “We’re certainly nearer the end than the beginning,” Bell said. “We won’t let it hang. There will be some closure there.”

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