Rio Tinto celebrated the opening of a fourth diamond pipe, known as A21, at the remote subarctic Diavik Diamond Mine this week.

The multinational mining group headquartered in the United Kingdom owns a 60 per cent interest in, and operates Diavik.

“The new open pit pipe will provide an important source of incremental supply over the next four years to sustain production levels at the Rio Tinto operated mine,” a news release from Rio Tinto states.

Wally Schumann, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment attended and was a guest of honour at the celebration on Monday.

“Generations of Northerners have benefited from our diamond mines,” Minister Schumann says in a statement.

“Our mining partners have provided thousands of rewarding careers for our residents; enriched our communities through grants, scholarships and contributions; and spent billions with local businesses. The completion of the A21 kimberlite pipe at Diavik means that we will continue to see long-lasting benefits for Northerners and I commend the team and leadership at Diavik on this significant milestone.”

The A21 pipe is next to Diavik’s existing mining operations at Lac de Gras.

The pit is expected to be at full production this fall, after a four year construction period and approximately $350 million US (or $454 million CAD) invested. That investment was shared 60/40 by Rio Tinto and joint venture partner Dominion Diamond Corporation.

“Our people can take great pride in their achievement to safely bring the A21 pipe from development to commercial production,”  says Diavik Diamond Mines president Patrick Boitumelo.

“This new pipe is great news for the Northwest Territories and will help to deliver economic and social benefits that will endure beyond the life of the Diavik mine.”