Diavik Diamond Mine – Fort Smith, Northwest Territories - Atlas Obscura

Diavik Diamond Mine

Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Ice roads, deep holes and 3,500 pounds of diamonds. 


Just a few degrees shy of the arctic circle and more than a few degrees shy of inhabitable, the Diavik Diamond Mine is the shimmering prize of the Northwest Territories.

Since its initial construction in 2001, the Diavik Diamond Mine has steadily churned out precious stones at an amazing rate. Each year, 3,500 pounds of diamonds with a value of $100 million are mined from Diavik and sold to the rest of the world. Although the wealth from the mine is truly amazing, the real feat is not the mining but the transportation from the mine.

200 miles south of the mine is Yellowknife, a small town that averages high temperatures below zero for five months per year. Farther north, the weather doesn’t get any better, and the mining companies set on exploiting the resource knew a solution was necessary to easily move the diamonds out of the subarctic. The obvious, and extremely Canadian choice, were ice roads. In the winter, the ice roads leading to and from the mine are the only connection between the massive hole and the newly constructed Diavik Airport, and only the slightest change in weather can leave the miners and their precious cargo stranded deep in the Northwest Territories.

Know Before You Go

190 miles North of Yellowknife

Community Contributors
Added by

October 19, 2011

Make an Edit Add Photos
From Around the Web