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This article was published 7/3/2017 (1612 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Diamonds have been discovered in Manitoba for the first time in the province’s history, ending decades of speculation and opening up the possibility of a resurgence of diamond exploration.
An informal group of prospectors called the Lynx Consortium has found small micro-diamonds — less than one millimetre in diameter — in the Knee Lake region near Oxford House.
The discovery comes after a brief flurry of diamond exploration in the province 15 years ago came up empty.
Ruth Bezys, the president of Manitoba Prospectors and Developer Association and the wife of Mark Fedikow, one of the prospectors who found the diamonds, said it is an exciting development.
"They are all geologists and over the years they have been hunting for a diamond play in the Knee Lake region," she said. "Mark used to work with the Manitoba Geological Survey and he knew the data. There was a diamond rush but it never went anywhere."
Bezys said what is particularly exciting is that the small diamonds were discovered in the bedrock, not in the loose till that the receding glaciers pushed all over the place.
"They found it in the actual rock," she said. "It is diamond in bedrock. It has not moved. It is there."
The news comes a week after the annual release of the influential Fraser Institute survey of mining companies, which ranked Manitoba as the second-most-attractive jurisdiction in the world for mining.
Cliff Cullen, Manitoba’s minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade, was at the association conference in Toronto where the diamond discovery was announced.
"The world’s mining sector is taking notice of Manitoba’s mineral resource potential and our business and investment-friendly environment," he said. "Our government is very pleased by these recent developments and will continue to create the welcoming conditions necessary for the attraction of investment in our mineral resources."
The prospectors’ find does not mean there will be a diamond mine any time soon but it does confirm that there are diamonds in Manitoba — something that has been suspected for many years.
Diamonds have been discovered in Saskatchewan, northwest Ontario and Nunavut in the past 20 years.
"Although results from kimberlite indicator-mineral (KIM) surveys in the past 20 years have been promising," a 2003 study done for the province said, "no discoveries of diamondiferous kimberlite have been announced in Manitoba.
"Diamondiferous kimberlites have been discovered in the adjacent provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario, as well as in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and there is no fundamental geological reason to expect that kimberlites should not be present in Manitoba."
DeBeers, the global diamond leader, staked a large claim in Manitoba about 15 years ago.
Exploration for diamonds peaked in Manitoba in 2003 when about $3.5 million worth of exploration was conducted.
Bezys said the prospectors who found the diamonds do not have the financial resources to take it to the next step, which may mean optioning the claim to a larger mining company.
"It’s very exciting for the province, not just for the prospectors," she said.
"It will help everyone, not just one company; (it will help) the coffers of the province if you get a mine out of this, First Nations, you name it."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.