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Diamond facts

Diamonds are best known as gemstones, even though only 20% of the world's production by weight is used for jewellery. The other 80%, known as bort, is used in industrial and research applications where the unique properties of diamonds are required.

Key facts

  • In 2018, Canada was the world's third largest producer of diamonds by value (14.4%) and the third largest producer by volume (15.7%)
  • Canada's total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.9 billion in 2018

Learn more about diamonds

Uses

As the hardest known material, diamonds have been used for centuries as an abrasive in cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing. This is the dominant industrial use for diamonds.

Diamonds also have the highest thermal conductivity of any material at room temperature and are used as a sink to dissipate heat in electronic devices such as computers and diode lamps.

Production

Canadian mines produced 23 million carats of diamonds valued at $2.7 billion in 2018, representing a 0.2% decrease in volume and a 1.6% increase in value over 2017.

Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2018

Text version

This map of Canada shows the locations of five diamond mines and three advanced projects (i.e., a mine with suspended operations or an exploration project with a significant bulk sample and/or a pre-feasibility study), by province and territory. The Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué mines are located about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The Victor mine is located in northern Ontario and the Renard mine, in northern Quebec. From west to east, the advanced projects are located as follows: the Snap Lake project is located near the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories, the Jericho project, in Nunavut about 170 kilometres north of the Diavik mine, and the Star-Orion project, in central Saskatchewan.

Key factors concerning the volume:

  • While Canada’s total diamond production volume did not change much, it varied on an individual mine basis, with the Victor (26%) and Gahcho Kué (20%) mines registering significant increases while the Renard (27%), Ekati (11%) and Diavik (0.5%) mines experienced decreases
  • Gahcho Kué’s increase is a result of the mine operating for its first full year at a commercial level
  • The Stornoway Diamond Corporation's Renard mine production decrease is in large part linked to delays in the change in operations from an open pit to an underground mine and to technical problems at the processing plant
  • Lower production at the Ekati mine resulted from a shift to lower-grade ore as the high-grade Misery main pit was depleted
  • Diavik mine production results are explained by the mining of lower grade ores and the start of underground operations at the A21 pipe in March, which reached commercial production during the fourth quarter

    Key factors, that caused the increase in value:

    • A significant increase in carat production from the high-value-per-carat Victor mine
    • An increase in average rough diamond market prices that were estimated at 2.0% for the year by market observers and 5% by Kimberley Process statistics
    • The 0.2% depreciation of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar

    Canadian production of rough diamonds, 2009–2018 (p)

    Text version

    This bar graph shows the yearly volume of Canada's diamond production from 2009 to 2018. The production hovered at about 10.9 million carats between 2009 and 2013 before increasing to 12.0 million carats in 2014 and then decreasing to 11.7 million in 2015. Production then increased to 13.0 million carats in 2016 and spiked to 23.2 million carats in 2017 where it stabilized in 2018.

    Superimposed on the bar graph is a line showing the value of Canadian diamond production over the same period. In 2009, the value of Canada's diamond production experienced a low of $1.7 billion before gradually increasing towards a value of $2.5 billion in 2011. The value then gradually decreased to a low of $2.0 billion in 2013, after which it increased to $2.2 billion in 2014. In 2015, Canada's diamond production value decreased to $2.1 billion and fell further to $1.9 billion in 2016 before achieving a new all-time high of $2.7 billion in 2017 where it stabilized in 2018.

    International context

    Find out more about diamond production on an international scale:

    World production by country – Carat basis
    World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2018 (p)
    Ranking Country Percentage
    1 Russia 29.2%
    2 Botswana 16.5%
    3 Canada 15.7%
    4 Congo, D.R. 10.6%
    5 Australia 9.5%
    6 South Africa 6.7%
    7 Angola 5.7%
    8 Zimbabwe 2.2%
    9 Namibia 1.6%
    10 Lesotho 0.9%
    - Other countries 1.3%
    Total   100.0%
    World production by country – Value basis

    Worldwide, six countries accounted for 91% of production by value.

    World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2018 (p)
    Ranking Country Percentage
    1 Russia 27.4%
    2 Botswana 24.3%
    3 Canada 14.4%
    4 South Africa 8.5%
    5 Angola 8.4%
    6 Namibia 7.8%
    7 Lesotho 2.6%
    8 Australia 1.3%
    9 Zimbabwe 1.5%
    - Other countries 3.8%
    Total   100.0%

    World production of rough diamonds, 2009–2018 (p)

    Text version

    This bar graph shows the world's annual production of rough diamonds, in US dollars, from 2009 to 2018. Production was valued at $8.3 billion in 2009. It then gradually increased to $14.1 billion in 2011, fell to $12.6 billion in 2012, and gradually increased to a high of $14.5 billion in 2014. The value of production then decreased to $14.2 billion in 2015 and fell to about $12.3 billion in 2016, before bouncing back to $14.1 billion in 2017 and further increasing to $14.5 billion in 2018.

    Superimposed on the bar graph is a line showing the volume of world diamond production over the same period.  From a low of about 120.2 million carats in 2009, the volume increased to 128.3 million carats in 2010, fell to just under 123 million carats in 2011 and gradually increased to 129.8 million carats in 2013. Production then fell to 124.8 million carats in 2014 and increased to 128.3 million carats in 2015 before falling again towards 126.4 million carats in 2016. The world production of rough diamonds in 2017 jumped to a high of 150.9 million carats but subsequently fell to 147.7 million carats in 2018.

    Trade

    Exports

    • Canada's total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.9 billion in 2018
    • Canada's exports of diamonds increased by 9.4% in 2018, mainly because of an increase in the value of the rough diamonds exported
    • Canada's most important diamond export items by value were unsorted rough diamonds, sorted gem-quality rough diamonds and cut gem-quality diamonds
    • Exports were shipped mostly to Belgium, Botswana, India, the United States and Israel

    Imports

    • The estimated value of Canada's total primary imports of diamonds was $502 million in 2018
    • The value of diamond imports decreased by 5.9% in 2018 mostly because of a similar drop in the import of cut gem diamonds
    • The top import item by value was cut gem diamonds, most exceeding 0.5 carats in weight, which were destined for jewellery manufacturing, followed by uncut gem diamonds

    Prices

    There are no internationally set prices for rough gem-quality diamonds, as there are for many metals and other commodities. Mining companies hold “sights” at regular intervals to market their production. The prices reached at these sights are dictated by supply and demand for each of the many categories of diamonds.

    Rough diamonds, average value per carat, 2009–2018 (p)

    Text version

    This line graph shows the average value per carat of the world's diamond production from 2009 to 2018, according to statistics compiled by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Starting at a US$68.72 per-carat value, the average value gradually increased to US$114.51 in 2011 before falling back to US$98.82 in 2012. The average value then gradually increased to US$116.17 in 2014 before falling back to US$110.99 in 2015. In 2016, the average value per carat of the world's diamond production dropped to US$97.08 and the continued this downward trend towards US$93.60 in 2017. In 2018, the average value per carat bounced back up to US$98.31.

    Notes and sources

    (p) preliminary

    Totals may be different because of rounding.

    Production

    • Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2018
      • Natural Resources Canada
    • Canadian production of rough diamonds, 2009–2018 (p)
      • Natural Resources Canada

    International context

    • World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2018 (p)
      • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
    • World production of rough diamonds, by country, value basis, 2018 (p)
      • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
    • World production of rough diamonds, 2009–2018 (p)
      • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

    Trade

    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
      • Mineral trade includes ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products

    Prices

    • Rough diamonds, average value per carat, 2009–2018
      • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
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