Aber Diamond Mines Closes Project Financing

Aber Diamond Corporation (ADC) announced on January 29, 2002 that its wholly owned subsidiary, Aber Diamond Mines Ltd. (ADM) closed the largest project financing for a domestic Canadian mining project and the largest dedicated project finance loan for a diamond project. This US$230 million secured project financing constitutes a limited recourse financing of ADM’s 40 per cent minority, non-controlling interest in the $1.36 billion Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (DDMI) project near Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories.

Aber’s financial advisors were Hugo Dryland, senior managing director, and Marshall Baillieu, vice-president of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited in Washington. The loan facility will fund Aber’s financial requirements relating to the Diavik Diamond project through to commencement of operations in 2003.

Stikeman Elliott was retained as ADM’s project finance counsel, with a team comprising Peter Hamilton, Lewis Smith, Robert Nicholls and Abas Kanu in Toronto, and Michael Allen in Vancouver. Kerry Langford of Peterson, Stang & Malakoe in Yellowknife provided advice with respect to Northwest Territories legal issues. Marc Vermylen of Loyens & Loeff in Brussels provided Belgian legal advice, and Alex Schmitt of Bonn Schmitt Steichen provided advice with respect to Luxembourg legal issues. Chris Baldwin and Paul Bradley of Lawson Lundell’s Vancouver office acted for Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (the joint venture partner of ADM), together with Adrian Lumley-Smith of Rio Tinto, DDMI’s parent company in London. Lyle Hepburn of Beach, Hepburn LLP in Toronto acted as corporate counsel to ADC.

The lead arrangers, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Deutsche Bank AG, Export Development Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd. turned to Ogilvy Renault to advise and assist in structuring and negotiating the financing. The Ogilvy Renault team was comprised of Jacques Demers, Nicholas Williams, Merie-Anne Beavis and Geoff Walker (tax) and Pierre Dagenais and Jane Son.

When completed, the project will produce over an estimated 20-year mine life six to eight million carats per annum or approximately 5 per cent of the world’s current diamond production.