North Arrow Minerals is continuing to evaluate the potential value of diamond reserves at its Naujaat property with a large-scale sampling program this summer.
Ken Armstrong, CEO of North Arrow Minerals, said the company is hoping to get a better sense of the value of a special kind of coloured diamond that has been retrieved from previous samples.
“There are these really intriguing potentially high-value diamonds,” said Armstrong.
The Vancouver-based mining company has been evaluating the small area just a few kilometres outside of Naujaat since 2014.
In the summer of 2014, North Arrow carried out a 1,350-tonne bulk sample of kimberlite in the area. That was followed by a 234-tonne mini bulk sample in 2017.
Now the company is back to perform a 2,000-tonne bulk sample. North Arrow Minerals had originally planned to return to Naujaat in 2020, however COVID-19 created a setback in travel and financing for the operation. The company was subsequently able to work out an agreement with Burgundy Diamond Mines to fund this year’s work.
Based on previous samples, the company believes it has a 20-million carats inferred resource, which is an estimate that comes with a lower level of confidence. North Arrow’s current sampling is trying to determine the quality of those diamonds, in particular the bright orange diamonds that have been found in some samples.
Unlike other mineral resources that have a fixed price based on weight, the value of diamonds is determined by a variety of factors, including size, colour and clarity.
North Arrow has already had some samples of its coloured diamonds certified as high-value diamonds by the Geological Institute of America. Now it is a question of finding out just how many of them there are in the area.
“The goal is to get enough of those coloured diamonds to model whether there is enough in there to make it worth our while,” Armstrong said.
Unlike most mining projects in Nunavut, North Arrow’s property is located on commissioner’s land. That means it falls within the hamlet’s immediate jurisdiction.
Because of that, North Arrow has been working very closely with the local municipality on the permitting required for exploration. Armstrong also said the community would be front and centre in negotiations over mineral rights should a mine eventually open up.
“There’s a lot of logistical things going for the deposit that you don’t normally have,” explained Armstrong.
The proximity of the site to the community also means that the company has been able to hire dozens of local labourers to help with the program over the years.
This summer alone North Arrow has hired 25 Naujaatmiut to work on the project.
“We have a good group of employees that have worked with us over the years,” Armstrong said.
Work on this year’s sampling program is currently underway and is expected to wrap up by the end of August. Following that, Armstrong said the company hopes to update information about potential reserves in the new year.