Premier Couillard lauds relaunch of Plan Nord as first Quebec diamond mine inaugurated

Quebec's first diamond mine is officially opening today.

Stornoway Diamond Corp. is developing the site, the province's first such diamond mining operation.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is in northern Quebec today to attend the ground breaking ceremony, northeast of Lake Mistassini, in Cree territory.

The mine, located near the Otish Mountains, is expected to yield 1.6 million carats a year over an 11-year period.

The formal decision to go ahead comes as Stornoway secured $946 million in funding for its Renard mine earlier this week.

Stornoway says in a news release that commercial production is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2017, with a plant expected to be built by late 2016.

The Liberals lauded the project as the official relaunch of Quebec's ambitious Plan Nord, a plan to develop the province's north through mining, energy, infrastructure and conservation projects expected to span over a quarter-century.

The ambitious multibillion-dollar northern development plan was initially introduced by Couillard's predecessor, Jean Charest, in May 2011.

A provincial road was built in partnership between the government and Stornoway to get to the mine.

The extension was the subject of controversy and the cost was re-negotiated by the previous Parti Quebecois government with Stornoway to bring the overall cost down by about $125 million over the original $472 million price tag.

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