145. Canada's First Diamond Mine (1991)
In 1991, the first diamond-bearing kimberlite in Canada was discovered in the Lac de Gras area of the Northwest Territories. This led to the development of the successful Ekati Diamond Mine in 1998, and triggered the largest claim-staking rush in the world.
The innovation of Lac de Gras discoverers Chuck Fipke and Stu Blusson was to sample glacio-fluvial sediment (eskers) for resistant minerals that indicate the presence of kimberlite by utilizing the eskers and glacial flow paths as shown on Quaternary maps published by the Geological Survey of Canada. This esker sampling strategy followed on the mid-1960s work of Survey geologist Hulburt Lee who demonstrated that kimberlite indicator minerals are present in eskers in the Kirkland Lake area of Ontario.
Importantly, from 1987 to 1989, the Survey funded Fipke’s company C.F. Mineral Research to develop advanced technology that could distinguish productive diamondiferous diatremes from barren ones. The result was that Fipke demonstrated the utility of recognizing specific chemical compositions of indicator minerals to diamond prospecting. This subsequently led to a Canada-wide diamond exploration boom, and the development of new Canadian diamond mines.
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