TORONTO, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ - Aber Diamond Corporation (T-ABZ, NASDAQ- ABERF) announces the completion of the sale of its interest in the Snap Lake Project to De Beers Canada Mining Inc. for US$114 million (C$171 million). Completion of this transaction provides Aber with additional equity funds for the financing of Aber's 40% interest in the Diavik Diamonds Project which is currently under construction. Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (DDMI), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc. and operator of the Diavik Diamonds Project, has completed a detailed construction program for 2001 and 2002 with the objective of advancing commercial production into early 2003. The Project cost remains unchanged at C$1.3 billion, of which approximately C$275 million has already been expended as at December 31, 2000. The most critical individual item affecting an advanced production schedule is the completion of the A154 dike construction program in 2001, followed by de-watering of the A154 pool in mid 2002 and clearing of the lake till overburden thereafter to gain access to the diamond bearing kimberlite ore below. Completion of the A154 dike during 2001 will have the effect of moving certain construction expenditures originally planned for 2002 into 2001. The projected Diavik development budget for the year 2001 is C$550 million, of which Aber's 40% share is C$220 million. Proceeds from the Snap Lake sale, together with Aber's approximately C$100 million in cash at December 31, 2000, are sufficient to fund Aber's Diavik commitments through the first quarter of 2002. The Company is currently working with its financial advisor, NM Rothschild & Sons, on securing debt financing to meet the remainder of its funding requirements through to the commencement of commercial production in 2003. The Diavik Diamonds Project is projected to produce 6-8 million carats per annum representing more than 5% of world diamond production. The Diavik Diamonds Project is an unincorporated joint venture between DDMI (60%) and Aber Diamond Mines Ltd. (40%). Both companies are headquartered in Yellowknife. DDMI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc of London, England, and Aber Diamond Mines Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aber Diamond Corporation of Toronto, Ontario.
SOURCE Aber Diamond Corporation