Diavik Diamond Mine
Credit: Rio Tinto

Canadian Diamond Mine Will Use Solar Power

The Diavik diamond mine will soon draw its energy from the largest solar power plant in Canada’s Northwest Territories. With more than 6,600 solar panels, the new facility is expected to be operational by the first half of 2024.

Reduced Emissions

Diavik already operates a hybrid wind-diesel power facility, which supplies a portion of the site’s electricity needs. The solar power plant is expected to generate another 4,200 megawatt hours of emissions-free electricity annually, the equivalent of powering 420 average American homes for a year. Adding the solar plant will also reduce diesel consumption by more than 250,000 gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,900 tons. That reduction is equivalent to taking 630 cars off the road. It’s worth noting that the solar panels are bifacial, capable of harnessing energy from the snow that blankets Diavik for most of the year, in addition to direct sunlight.

Solar Panels
Credit: Solar Power World

A Rich History

Diavik officially opened in 2003 as a joint venture between mining giants Rio Tinto and Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, now Dominion Diamond Mines. Situated on an island in Lac de Gras, the mine is renowned for its challenging Arctic environment. Diavik quickly became one of the world’s top diamond producers, yielding high-quality gems from its open-pit operations. In 2012, Diavik transitioned to underground mining to access deeper diamond reserves. The mine has played a vital role in Canada’s diamond industry, contributing significantly to the nation’s economy.

Diamond Miners
Credit: SRK


Australia’s Rio Tinto took sole ownership of the Diavik mine in 2021. They recently approved a $40 million investment for underground mining operations, effectively extending the mine’s lifespan until 2026. The closure phase will last until 2029, during which time the solar plant will contribute up to 25% of all electricity required. The closure of Diavik will mark the end of a chapter in Canada’s diamond mining history.

Funding for this ambitious project was provided by the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant program, offering the equivalent of $2.4 million USD and $45oK USD from The Government of Canada’s Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit.

Diavik Diamond Mine
Credit: Rio Tinto



John Pollard

John Pollard is Senior Director of Education for IGI, managing the institute’s education and diploma programs taught at 18 schools of gemology around the world, and instructing new eLearning courses, tutorials, and seminars to IGI clients in all industry sectors, including leading luxury brands.

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