Dominion Diamond Corporation: A Canadian Mining Giant

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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Dominion Diamond Corporation is a diamond mining company based in Canada and goes by several names, such as Dominion Diamond Mines, Aber, and Harry Winston. DDC is Canada’s largest independent diamond mining producer and is associated with the Diavik Diamond Mine Project, where it enjoys a 40% stake. Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. holds the remaining stake.

Besides the Diavik Diamond Mine, Dominion Diamond Corporation has interests in the Ekati Diamond Mine. The two mines are in the Canadian Northwest Territories, around 124 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Though Dominion primarily exploits diamonds in Canada, it operates in various other countries worldwide. Besides its corporate office in Calgary, Canada, the company sorts and trades diamonds in Yellowknife, Canada, and Mumbai, India. It also boasts a marketing office in Antwerp, Belgium.

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Brief History

Dominion Diamond Corporation was established in 1994, coinciding with the discovery of the Diavik Diamond Mine. At the time, the company was known as Aber Diamond Corporation. Dominion would later change its name to Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, then to Dominion Diamond Corporation, and finally to Dominion Diamond Mines as it is presently known.

Aber struggled to penetrate the diamond market for the first nine years, during which De Beers mostly dominated the market. It was not until January 2003 that Aber produced their first rough diamonds in the Diavik mine. In March of the same year, the company made its first sale of rough diamonds, a significant milestone that designated it a critical player in the global diamond industry.

In 2004, the company acquired a 51% stake in Harry Winston Inc. Two years later, Aber claimed complete ownership of Harry Winston Inc. The company changed its name to Harry Winston Inc. in 2007 when it was listed on Wall Street for the first time.

Dominion declared its interest in the Ekati Diamond Mine in 2012. It was a capital-intensive decision that saw the firm divest Harry Winston Inc. When the corporation finally acquired a controlling stake in the mine, it dropped its name and adopted Dominion Diamond Corporation. The company’s streak of changing names would end in 2017 when it became a subsidiary of the Washington Companies.

Over the years, Dominion’s fortunes have grown tremendously. The company has partnered with renowned diamond merchants to enhance its brand. One such partnership is a deal that was signed in June 2017 with James Allen. According to the agreement, James Allen would become the preeminent online retailer of CanadaMark diamonds.

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Diamond Mines Controlled by Dominion

The Ekati Diamond Mine was Canada's first surface and underground diamond mining site in the Canadian Lac de Gras region. Though discovered in 1981, profound explorations began in the mid-90s. Ekati is a Tlicho word for "fat lake." During the initial years of diamond exploration on this site, much of the mining occurred in six open fields. The pits include Beartooth, Koala, Koala North, Fox, Panda, and Misery, though only Panda, Koala, and Koala North could witness some underground operations.

Mining operations have since ceased in most of these pits. Till recently, only Koala, Sable, Misery, and Pigeon were active, whereas a massive chunk of the activities happened in open pits. However, more prospecting work is ongoing around these sites to determine their diamond potential.

Although Diavik may not be as old as Ekati, it is the largest diamond mine in Canada by carat production. The site witnessed the first production of diamonds in January 2003. Diavik has taken over major diamond mines worldwide, primarily because the site produces diamonds of exceptional clarity. Diavik diamonds are also sparkling white, another one of their distinguishing features.

Dominion Diamond Mines does not operate the mine independently. Instead, it is a joint venture with Rio Tinto that takes care of the site operations while Dominion funds 40% of the operating costs. In return, it receives 40% of the net diamond output from the mine.

Diamond Cheat Sheet Blue Nile

Dominion’s Corporate Social Responsibility

Dominion Diamond Mines believes in the principles of corporate social responsibility, which is why they strive to ensure that their diamond mining and trading operations are above board. Throughout activities, Dominion seeks to uphold sustainable environmental practices—besides, the company endeavors to bring about a significant socio-economic transformation. The firm commits to safeguarding the health and welfare of the employees and the communities with whom it interacts.

Indigenous communities are the greatest beneficiaries of this corporate-social responsibility commitment. First, the company aspires to undertake all mining activities that do not escalate environmental degradation. Besides, it seeks to impact the local communities economically. Dominion identifies some of the main challenges that indigenous communities face. Afterward, in liaison with their leaders, the company tries to devise long-term solutions. To that end, Dominion makes periodic reports on the economic and environmental status of the Northwest Territories. These reports include the 2018 ESTMA Report, the 2016 ESTMA Report, and the 2017 ESTMA ReportCheck their website for real-time news on matters such as jobs and careers.

Blood diamonds have always been a constant flesh in the thorn of diamond traders worldwide, heralding the establishment of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the System of Warranties. Diamond traders that subscribe to any of these councils undertake to deal only in conflict-free diamonds. Dominion provides a conflict-free guarantee on their invoices as part of their commitment to producing ethical diamonds. Buying diamonds from the company comes with peace of mind, knowing that one is dealing with ethically sourced stones. Better, Canada as a country subscribes to the KPCS, implying that one can, by all means, be certain that the diamonds from any of the mines controlled by Dominion will be conflict-free.

Dominion Diamond Mines is also a member of the Diamond Producers Association, which comprises leading diamond companies worldwide. The main objective of this association is to keep blood diamonds out of the mainstream diamond market. Besides, the body continually comes up with the best practices in the mining, producing, and selling diamonds. DPA members also strive to understand the needs of their consumers in a bid to offer them unique value and personalized experiences. Other notable members include De Beers, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto, ALROSA, Gem Diamonds Ltd, and Petra Diamonds Ltd. Lastly, Dominion is a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, another body charged with promoting ethical, social, and environmental practices in the diamond trade.

Quality Assurance to a Whole New Level

Besides their membership in reputable diamond councils, Dominion Diamond Mines is a critical player in implementing the Canadamark™ initiative. Canadamark™ is an initiative that ensures that the diamonds produced in Canada retain their high ethical integrity. It is one of the programs by Dominion aiming at instilling confidence in diamond consumers.

When customers buy Canadamark™, they receive a natural, untreated, responsibly mined diamond. Above all, the diamond meets all the quality standards regardless of where it is bought.

Dominion Diamond Mines may have undergone numerous name changes, but the company has continually upheld its core business principles—environmental stewardship and socio-economic empowerment. Every diamond from Dominion comes with an assurance of quality and high craftsmanship. Click here to contact the company for any queries or clarifications.