Canada’s diamond staking rush favors early entrants

Everybody wants a piece of the action.

Even the venerable diamond powerhouse, De Beers, is committing as much as $20 million to the hunt. 

It’s the glittering lure of a possible multi-billion dollar diamond discovery that’s lighting up northern Saskatchewan. A number of mineral exploration companies have joined De Beers in a new staking rush in a region known as the Athabasca Basin.

The early-stage entrant advantage   

Among these hopefuls is Arctic Star Exploration — a veteran diamond hunter — that is expanding its search from the Northwest Territories (NWT) into Canada’s new diamond exploration hot spot.   

Arctic Star has joined De Beers, CanAlaksa Uranium and Fjordland Explorations as early-stage entrants in this headline-grabbing new area play. All of them have been able to cherry-pick geologically prospective land holdings, which boosts their odds of success. However, it’s still a long shot gamble for all of them.

Nonetheless, it’s one worth committing big bucks to, as far as De Beers is concerned. What’s generated all the excitement is a government airborne geophysical survey that has revealed at least 75 buried “kimberlite-like anomalies”.  This is geo-speak that suggests the possible presence of diamond fields in a part of Canada that has historically been mostly overlooked in the hunt for diamonds.  

To put matters in perspective, the survey was originally commissioned to help identify new areas to search for uranium in a remote northern region. However, the only interesting revelation that came from the survey was the presence of a cluster of near-surface magnetic anomalies — ones that looked like buried kimberlite pipes that stand out on the survey like knots on a piece of plywood.

Kimberlite pipes are the cone-shaped structures that can host rich diamond deposits, though most pipes contain few diamonds or none at all. Also, kimberlite fields typically involve clusters of between 50-100 pipes spread out over areas of up to 100 kilometres.

What makes the discovery of the cluster of 75 kimberlite-like anomalies all the more intriguing is the presence only 100 kilometres to the south (at least in geological terms) of a trail of kimberlite indicator minerals.

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About the Author

Marc Davis is managing editor of