Consulting engineers on team for $1.3 billion Diavik diamond mine
March 18, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
Production at Canada's second diamond mine, the Diavik Diamond Mine, is getting under way on Lac de Gras, 300 kilom...
Production at Canada’s second diamond mine, the Diavik Diamond Mine, is getting under way on Lac de Gras, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife in the Barrenlands of the Northwest Territories.
A number of consulting engineering firms were involved in constructing the mine facilities which were built at a cost of around $1.3 billion over two years. Among the firms who have been involved are SNC-Lavalin, Golder, Jacques Whitford, Aboriginal Engineering, EBA, Hatch and Acres International.
Over 8,000 truckloads of material were transported on a winter road to the site, which covers 20 square kilometres and includes a massive processing plant, boiler, water and sewage treatment plants as well as residential buildings, etc. The 20 buildings are prefabricated metal modules connected with “Arctic” corridors that serve as worker walkways and carry a network of drinking and heating water services, sewage, power and communications. The sewage treatment facility is the only one of its kind in northern Canada, with advanced biological treatment as well as alum and filtration to remove phosphorous.
A huge dike was built to de-water the first kimberlite pipe to be mined, known as the A154. It measures 800 metres in diameter and 285 metres deep. The mined material is shipped to a processing and recovery plant on site, where, x-rays and air blast methods rather than chemicals are used to separate the diamonds from the kimberlite host. Kimberlite pipes are the remains of volcanoes approximately 55 million years old, lying in Precambrian granite approximately 2.7 billion years old.
Owned by Aber Diamond Mines and Diavik Diamond Mines, the mine sits on the migration route of a portion of the Bathurst caribou herd, and in an area that is home to grizzly bears, wolves, caribou and foxes. A series of regulatory requirements and an Environmental Agreement between the Diavik, First Nations groups and the federal and territorial governments was concluded in March 2000 before construction to formalize the mine’s commitment to protecting the environment.
Over 1,100 workers were employed on the site at its peak, 40 per cent of whom were from First Nations. The team managed 1.3 million hours of work without a lost time injury or a light-duty injury.
The mine has four kimberlite pipes to be mined and is expected to have a life of 20 years, and to process 1.5 million tonnes of ore a year.