The territorial government says it’s unperturbed by the suspension of work on a major expansion of the Ekati diamond mine.

Earlier this week, Dominion Diamond Mines confirmed to Cabin Radio it has halted preparations at the Jay site. The Jay pipe had been expected to reach production by 2024 and extend the mine’s life by about a decade.

Washington Companies, which bought Dominion last year, is understood to be assessing its options with Jay’s long-term feasibility in question as diamond prices fail to recover.

“The GNWT appreciates the ongoing commitment of Dominion Diamonds to the North and understands that an investment on this scale requires serious consideration and study on the part of the company,” read a statement issued on behalf of the territory’s industry minister, Wally Schumann.

“We continue to have confidence in the NWT’s diamond mining sector and in the ongoing place Dominion will play in it.”

One former senior Ekati employee said the mine’s announcement was not a surprise.

Speaking to Cabin Radio, the former member of mine management said it was likely Washington Companies had already identified a replacement project at Ekati and begun work to advance that.

“This is not a train crash,” they said.

While bringing a project to production from scratch ordinarily takes anywhere from five to eight years, Cabin Radio understands some alternatives at Ekati could be fast-tracked and brought to production in a much shorter timeframe – ensuring the mine does not cease production once existing sites are exhausted in 2023.