Diavik's future is underground
Diavik has achieved a major milestone in its mine life. In September 2012, we completed our transition to an all underground mine.
A significant investment of approximately US $800 million by our owners, Rio Tinto and Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, to build the underground mine, shows the confidence in our continued success.
Throughout the underground mining phase, safety will continue to be our highest value. We will also maintain our high standards of environmental protection and our commitment to create significant local socio-economic benefits. These commitments will not change.
However, we will need to change our business for a different kind of mining. This new operating environment requires different mining methods, skills, equipment, and additional supporting infrastructure. For a short time, we operated our open-pit and underground mines concurrently.
By making this transition to underground, we are doing what we have always said we would do. Going underground assures our future and means we will deliver a mine life of 16 to 22 years - the mine life we projected back in the 1990s, before construction began.
Diavik's open-pit and underground mining operations differ greatly. Top are Diavik's two operating open pits with the two dikes allowing access to the three kimberlite ore bodies. The kimberlites, extinct volcanoes that brought the diamonds to surface, are known as pipes. Above is a computer generated illustration showing the conceptual development needed to underground mine the pipes. Clearly, the underground mine design is very complex.