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Giant gem-quality Ekati diamond auctioned off on Valentine's Day

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Suddenly your own Valentine's Day plans seem inadequate in retrospect.

NNSL photo/graphic

This 78-carat diamond was mined from BHP Billiton's Ekati Diamond Mine in late October. - photo courtesy of BHP Billiton

On Monday BHP Billiton, owner of the Ekati Diamond Mine, auctioned off a 78-carat Ekati diamond in Antwerp, Belgium for more than $2.8 million.

As of press time, the name of the successful bidder and the exact value of the gem had not been released, however BHP spokesperson Alexander Legaree said it tops the previous BHP Billiton record of $2.8 million for a diamond.

"It is the most significant gem-quality diamond discovered to date at Ekati," said Legaree.

Commercial production at Ekati begin in late 1998.

"It does tell you that it is an uncommon, yet very special occurrence," said Legaree.

BHP held a contest among its direct mine employees and contracted employees to name the rare find.

"We had hundreds of submissions, top quality submissions," said Legaree.

The wining submission - "Ekati Spirit" - was provided by Terry Marshall, a warehouse technician in the Ekati truck shop.

"It was simple, to-the-point and it really represents Ekati Diamond Mine. It just covers everything off so well," said Legaree.

Over 70 customers participated in the auction.

The Ekati Diamond Mine is located 310 km northeast of Yellowknife.

- with files from Kevin Allerston

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