De Beers is to immediately cease mining at its Snap Lake mine in Canada. The move comes following a review of its operations, particularly in light of current market conditions.
The company has put the mine on “care and maintenance” and expects this status to last for one to nine months. The decision has resulted in 434 employees being laid off. The company will evaluate market conditions over the next year to determine whether the resources at the mine make it viable, according to a De Beers statement on December 4, 2015. Environmental monitoring and other work required under the terms of the mine’s permits will continue in the meantime.
Work involved in carrying out the suspension will require approximately 120 employees and the care and maintenance itself will keep 70 workers in employment. The company has transferred 41 employees to another of its Canadian mines, the Gahcho Kué Project, and there’s potential to move another 60 next year.
“The men and women at Snap Lake have put enormous effort into this challenging ore body over many years, but even the gains made this year are not enough to overcome the market conditions and put us in a profitable position,” said Kim Truter, De Beers Canada’s chief executive officer.
The Snap Lake mine, located in the Northwest Territories, opened in July 2008 and is Canada’s only fully underground diamond mine, according to the group.