A 78-carat diamond found in BHP Billiton's Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.
Nov 29, 2011 – 9:33 AM ET | Last Updated: Nov 29, 2011 7:02 PM ET
When huge diamond deposits were discovered in the Canadian Arctic in the early 1990s, geologists were optimistic there would be many more to come.
It didn’t happen. Despite massive spending on exploration, no large mine has been discovered in the territories in almost 15 years, and the diamond boom never lived up to its initial promise.
BHP Billiton Ltd. admitted as much Tuesday as it announced it will study a potential sale of its Ekati mine in the Northwest Territories. Ekati is a great asset and is performing well, but after years of “extensive” exploration, BHP was never able to follow up with another big discovery. With Ekati set to run out of diamonds near the end of the decade, BHP will review whether it should get out of the business.