Stornoway's outgoing CEO Matt Manson at the Renard mine opening in October 2016. Courtesy of Stornoway Diamond/Flickr

Stornoway Diamond president and CEO Matt Manson is stepping down as of Jan. 1, and being replaced by Patrick Godin, the company’s COO.

Manson, who has been with the company since 2005, was named president in 2007 and CEO in 2009. Manson oversaw the company as it constructed and began operating its flagship Renard mine – Quebec’s first diamond mine – and led the $946-million project financing for the project in 2014.

Ebe Sherkus, chairman of Stornoway’s board, called Manson “the driving force behind the successful acquisition, financing and development of the Renard diamond mine.

“His determination and energy have been the key ingredients in the corporation’s transition from junior explorer to mine developer and operator.”

Godin joined Stornoway as COO in May 2010 and was appointed to the board in October 2011. He has been responsible for the construction and development of Renard’s surface and underground mining operations.

Prior to joining Stornoway, Godin was vice-president of project development for Quebec mining contractor GMining Services, where he managed development of Iamgold’s Essakane mine in Burkina Faso.

“I am confident Pat has the leadership skills required to achieve this task, and I look forward to supporting him in his new duties as President and CEO,” Manson said.

Related: Stornoway Diamond Corporation expects to bring its Renard mine into commercial production by the new year, a full five months ahead of schedule and $36 million below budget

Godin said he was “pleased to be assuming the leadership of Stornoway" through the next stage of its development.

"Working with our committed employees, partners and shareholders, our near term-term focus will be on delivering further performance improvements, adding to our reserve base, and maximizing free cash flow generation.”

The Renard mine began commercial production in December 2016 using ore mined from open pits before adding ore from underground operations this year.

Stornoway’s third-quarter results, also released today, reported that it had completed the ramp-up of its underground mine production and achieved a steady feed. It said it expected its produced and sold carats for 2018 to be “within the low end of range” for its guidance. Stornoway revised its production guidance in the first quarter to between 1.35 and 1.40 million carats, down from 1.6 million carats previously, due to the lower grade production ore and stockpiles it was processing in the first quarter.

The company reported a net loss of $37.6 million in the quarter, which Manson attributed to company sales in July and September of diamonds recovered from the lower grade ore. But he noted that the carats and grade recoveries during the third quarter had improved by 47 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively, as the company mined higher grade ore.

“We continue to see weakness in the diamond market, particularly in smaller and lower quality items,” he said. “However, the Renard mine is now meeting or exceeding expectations in terms of tonnes mined, tonnes processed and carats recovered.”