Ice diamonds by Jean Queyrat


Canada is today the world’s third producer of diamonds both in value and quantity. These are not just any diamonds, they are ice diamonds or «clean» diamonds in opposition with Africa’s «blood» diamonds that finance war, weapons and use child labor. Clean diamonds are widely appreciated on the international market for their purity as well as their ethics.

Extracting these rocks is no easy feat. By minus 50 degrees celsius and polar winds, thousands of men work in giant open-air mines of 1,5 km diameter. These holes the size of lunar craters are excavated by huge bulldozers that dig sometimes 300 meters deep into the permafrost and then into black lava rock of over 53 million years old. We are almost in a science fiction movie: the mine and machinery are ultra modern, the scenery is pristine white and the miners work in extremely secure conditions. We are very far from the 19th century coal mines. For nine months of the year, the miners are isolated from the rest of the world, as there is no other way to access the site than by the ice road.

We have exclusive access to the mine, a first, where we will film the daily grind of its 700 workers and go behind the scenes of ice-diamond prospecting. Our main character, Paul Drybones, is an aborigine Indian whose life was completely transformed by the diamond rush of the 90’s. He is now a diamond prospector who works a good living for Rio Tinto in the most impressive and cinematographic mines of all, called Diavik. Paul is also a nature-lover and lives with his family in a small village about an hour away from the mine. His wife takes the ice road every day to bring their children to school. A story of life in nature, and yet in a modern world.


Length: 52 minutes


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