De Beers has announced it has suspended operations at its Snap Lake diamond mine in Canada due to poor market conditions.
The company said work to suspend production at the mine has begun, a process which could take up to nine months. It will evaluate market conditions over the next year to determine its potential as a viable mine for the future.
The firm is laying off 434 employees and will employ 120 for suspension work, and said 70 employees will be needed for the care and maintenance of the site, which will include environmental monitoring and work required under the mine’s permits.
Some 41 employees have been transferred to the company’s nearby Gahcho Kué mine, with the potential for another 60 to transfer at some point in 2016.
Kim Truter, chief executive of De Beers Canada, said: “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.
“To see such a strong commitment to the mine makes today’s announcement that much more difficult.”
The Snap Lake mine, which officially opened in July 2008, is Canada’s only fully underground diamond mine.