In 2021, Arctic Star Exploration Corp. (TSXV: ADD) made a significant diamond discovery, one that may potentially change the dynamics of the Northwest Territories’ diamond industry. The discovery did not happen by accident.
Diamonds were first discovered by geologists Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson near Lac de Gras, NWT, in the 1990’s, and the big two were the prolific Ekati (1998) and Diavik (2003) mines. These two mines have produced over 68 million and 100 million carats of diamonds, respectively. And they are largely responsible for enabling Canada to become the world’s third largest diamond producer.
BHP who became the subsequent owner of Ekati, and Rio Tinto, which controls Diavik, claimed most of the land surrounding the mines. This discouraged other exploration companies from working the area. Still, after Dia Met Minerals’ original discovery by Fipke and Blusson, over 200 companies staked claims in all directions around Lac de Gras and beyond, in the hopes of finding other economically viable kimberlite fields. Most of these companies found nothing and eventually left the NWT. The common assumption became that outside the areas controlled by the majors, the chances of finding mineable diamonds was not good.
Fortunately for Arctic Star, the company’s Chief Geologist, Buddy Doyle, had been the lead geologist for a Rio Tinto subsidiary, Kennecott Canada, and their exploration team when he made the Diavik Discovery in 1992. Working in tandem with world-renowned diamond geologist Chris Jennings, who initially helped determine the best location for diamonds in the NWT, Doyle is said to have identified the precise drill targets that became the basis for Dia Met’s Ekati discovery. The following year, Mr. Doyle made the Diavik discovery. And the rest is history.
As stated, once the Ekati and Diavik became producing mines, much of the exploration activity tapered off, and the various geologists turned to other endeavors. Doyle, however, still believed that the Lac de Gras area had other hidden gems to be found. He had the benefit of years of experience and the accumulated knowledge from years of NWT exploration work. And in the interim since the major discoveries, exploration methods and technologies had improved tremendously. This enabled geologists to conduct more cost-effective and efficient exploration activities, especially in inhospitable environments such as Canada’s far north.
Mr. Doyle and his team used non-magnetics and extensive geochemistry to identify potential kimberlites on Arctic Star’s Diagras property. They followed the pattern of diamond indicator minerals, known as a ‘dispersion train.’ These indicator minerals often portend the presence of kimberlite pipes, which can be found in bunches or clusters that may extend outward for as much as 100 kilometres.
In 2021, the company conducted a small ground sampling program based on surface geophysical mapping, and discovered 5 kimberlites. Two commercial-grade diamonds were recovered. More importantly, caustic fusion (the method of assaying for diamonds) results of the samples found that all the kimberlites discovered from the Spring 2021 drilling program contained diamonds. The large Sequoia kimberlite, whose geophysical signature measured a length of 1,000 metres and a width of 300 metres, had significant diamond counts when compared to its immediate area, including the Jack Pine kimberlite, which is a historic De Beers kimberlite. The Sequoia Kimberlite is said to be the largest kimberlite in the Lac de Gras region, as per Doyle.
Doyle is especially pleased that the caustic fusion analysis from the Sequoia samples showed that approximately 50% of the diamonds from the Sequoia samples are a nitrogen-free Type-2 population. These diamonds are highly sought after in the diamond market, with only around 2% of diamonds found worldwide being Type-2.
“The presence of a significant proportion of Type IIa diamonds in the Sequoia kimberlite complex caustic fusion samples is another line of evidence of the potential to host plus 50ct, high value diamonds, backed up by the collaborative indicator chemistry and the relatively coarse, low gradient diamond size distribution. Finally, SRC describes all the diamonds as clear and white, this is unusual as most kimberlites have a mix with a high percentage of boart,” commented Boyle at the time of announcement. If these results are indicative of what might be found over a large part of the Diagras property, it could greatly enhance the project’s valuation.
The most recent drill cores taken from the company’s 2022 spring drill program were sent to the lab for caustic fusion analysis, and Arctic Star expects results will be provided in the very near future. These results will provide Doyle and his team with a clearer picture of Sequoia’s true potential.
Arctic Star last traded at $0.085 on the TSX Venture.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Arctic Star Exploration is a client of Canacom Group, the parent company of The Deep Dive. The author has been compensated to cover Arctic Star Exploration on The Deep Dive, with The Deep Dive having full editorial control. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security.