Rio Tinto Workers Killed en Route to Diavik Diamond Mine

A number of remote employees at Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in Canada died Tuesday after the small plane carrying them to the site crashed.

“We have been informed by authorities that a plane on its way to our Diavik mine, carrying a number of our people, crashed…resulting in fatalities,” said Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm.

The company has not disclosed how many died on board the aircraft, which seats 19 people. The plane crashed near Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories shortly after takeoff. Rio Tinto employs many remote workers, who operate in shifts at the mine. Because of its isolated location, the miner transports workers by aircraft to and from the deposit.

“I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been affected by this tragedy,” Stausholm said. “As a company, we are absolutely devastated by this news and [are] offering our full support to our people and the community, who are grieving today. We are working closely with authorities and will help in any way we can with their efforts to find out exactly what happened.”

Northwest Territories Premier R.J. Simpson also mourned the loss.

“It is with a heavy heart that I express my deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who were aboard the Northwestern Air flight that crashed outside of Fort Smith today,” he noted. “The impact of this incident is felt across the territory…. As we seek to understand the circumstances of this tragedy, I’d also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the first responders and rescue teams who continue to work tirelessly at the crash site.”

It is unclear whether the crash will impact diamond production or sales at Diavik.