LAC LAGOPÈDE, Que. — Stornoway Diamond Corp. CEO Matt Manson stands over a glass display case containing piles of shimmering stones destined for rings and necklaces around the world. The diamonds are sorted by size, colour and shape, and using a pair of tweezers, Manson picks up one of the biggest: a clear eight-sided stone estimated to be worth more than $100,000.
“Diamonds are a mined product that people use to commemorate the most important personal moments of their lives,” he said at the recent inauguration of the Renard mine in north-central Quebec. Although the entire 20,000 carat haul could fit inside a wedding party punch bowl, it took 450 workers six days to produce and is valued between $3 million and $5 million.
The piles of gems were not only to display the potential of Quebec’s first diamond mine — they also represent the initial spoils of the provincial government’s Plan Nord initiative.
Manson says that when Renard is fully operational, it should be able to produce the amount on display in less than three days throughout the project’s estimated 14-year lifespan. “Mines really are made, not discovered,” he says.
Stornoway flew investors, analysts, media and politicians to its opening ceremony at the site more than 800 kilometres north of the company’s head office in Longueuil, Que., on Montreal’s South Shore.
From the small airport built by Stornoway, a wide gravel road passes between stands of tall, thin spruce trees and pale green moss of the rocky Boreal landscape. It’s mid-October and the ground is already speckled with frost. Parts of the forest where vegetation is sparse allow views of Lake Lagopède, framed by rolling hills into the distance.
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