The Diavik Diamond Mine is located in one of the most remote and forbidding places in the world - 220 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle and on the bed of a vast northern lake, Lac de Gras. A single road, built out of ice and crossing frozen lakes, connects the mine with other operations and Yellowknife, capital of the Canada's Northwest Territories. The construction of an open pit mine and its infrastructure is an engineering feat on a grand scale, with the creation of rockfill dikes to hold the frigid waters of Lac de Gras at bay. Not only did the extremely harsh climatic conditions present significant construction challenges, but nothing was allowed to blemish the pristine waters of the lake during its building.
Diamonds were first discovered in the Lac de Gras region in the early 1990s, and construction of the Diavik Diamond Mine completed in 2003. The mine, which has a current footprint of approximately 10 square kilometres, is projected to produce oer 100 million carats of diamonds over its mine life of 16 to 22 years, with an expected annual diamond production peak of approximately 10 million carats.
Diavik currently mines three diamond-bearing ore bodies known as kimberlite pipes. The pipes are called A154 South, A154 North and A418. Open pit mining of the A154 pipes has now concluded while open pit mining of the A418 pipe continues. Mining and processing of initial ore from Diavik's new undrground mine commenced in early 2010. By 2012, Diavik expects to become an all underground mine. All three pipes will be mined using underground mining methods.
At 31 December 2010, Diavik had open pit and underground ore reserves of 18 million tonnes at 2.9 carats per tonne (Rio Tinto 2010 Annual Report).
Diavik is going underground, assuring our future and delivering a mine life of 16-22 years.
The Diavik Diamond Mine is located on a 20 square kilometre island, informally called East Island, in Lac de Gras, approximately 300 kilometres by air northeast of Yellowknife.
The timeline of the Diavik Diamond Mine's construction and commissioning shows how much it has achieved in a very short span of years.
55 million years ago, volcanic activity injected kimberlite magma towards the surface, bringing with it diamond bearing ore and forming the kimberlite pipes which are today mined for its precious ore.
The Ice Road services the Diavik Diamond Mine and is constructed of ice and built over several frozen lakes.
The Diavik Diamond Mine ore reserve comprises three diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes that are currently been mined using open pit mining methods. All three kimberlites will eventually also be mined from underground.
Water diversion structures, called dikes, were built to temporarily hold back the waters of Lac de Gras to allow mining of the lake bed.
The Diavik Diamond Mine is an extensive operation, containing facilities for mining, processing, administration, maintenance, and transportation.
Geologists undertake a range of activities when exploring for and locating diamond bearing ore.
Separating diamonds from waste rock is a non-chemical, largely gravity-based process.
The Diavik Diamond Mine has won international acclaim as a leader in mine engineering and in successful sustainable development and community contribution.