Diamond mining giant De Beers has renewed its sponsorship of Yellowknife's Inspired Ice contest in a five-year, $150,000 agreement.
The deal works out at $30,000 per year for the ice carving competition – an increase on the $25,000 provided by the company for last year's contest.
Inspired Ice forms a part of Yellowknife's annual Long John Jamboree festival, ordinarily held in late March. Ice carvers from across the globe are attracted to the contest, which in 2018 will run from Thursday, March 22 to Saturday, March 24.
De Beers, which operates the territory's Gahcho Kué diamond mine alongside the currently shuttered Snap Lake mine, was a founding sponsor of the contest in 2012. In 2016 the company temporarily pulled out as a sponsor following its decision to suspend operations at the loss-making Snap Lake facility, but returned a year later.
In a news release issued on Monday afternoon, De Beers said two former Inspired Ice champions and a mixed team from Belgium and Sweden had applied to take part in the 2018 event. Long John Jamboree organizers hope the new sponsorship agreement will partly allow funding for more foreign ice sculptors to travel and participate.
Allan Rodel, the Gahcho Kué mine general manager, said De Beers hoped its money would fund an event bringing "attention to Yellowknife from across the world and celebrating the uniqueness and beauty that is life in the North."
— De Beers Canada (@DeBeersCanada) March 25, 2017
The Lake Song carving by Wisconsin's Chris Swarbrick and Pennsylvania's Peter Slavin won last year's Inspired Ice, in which competitors had up to 30 hours to work with a block approximately 4 ft x 8 ft x 3 ft in size. The pair took home a $2,500 cash prize.