Russian diamond major Alrosa announced plans to invest RUB10bn ($156.7m) to extend the life of the Aikhal underground mine in Russia, by 10 years.


Image: The Aikhal underground mine in Russia. Photo: courtesy of PJSC ALROSA.

Located in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic in eastern Siberia, Russia, the Aikhal underground mine is planned to be further developed to replenish the raw material base, and sustain more than 500 jobs.

The mine extension project, which involves stripping and mining of Aikhal pipe reserves at the levels of between 100m and 400m underground.

Alrosa expects the project to replenish the raw material base of the mining and processing division by about 20-million carats, as well as maintain the production level of 500 thousand tons of ore up to 2044.

The commercial resources were initially estimated at 6.2 million tons of ore at the mine with completion of operations scheduled in 2034-2035.

Aikhal Mining and Processing Division director Evgeny Denisov said: “The project is also attractive due to no need for major re-equipment and no need to build new infrastructure, and so on.

“Development of deep levels and, accordingly, extension of the mine life will allow keeping more than 500 jobs, which is crucial for our company.”

The firm is planning to build the main haulage level -100m. Construction of mine openings for underlying beds is planned to commence in 2020.

In a separate development, Alrosa has discovered a large rough gem-quality diamond weighing 118.91 carats at its “International” underground mine in Yakutia, Russia.

The extracted light yellow overblown diamond features salient edges, one of them with cleavage. It has small inclusions in the central zone.

Alrosa United Selling Organization director Evgeny Agureev said: “This crystal is unique as it has a large clean area despite the inclusions in the center – this makes it a gem-quality diamond.

“Well-known hallmarks of the diamonds from the “International” kimberlite pipe are regular shapes and purity.

“That is exactly the pipe that most often brings ALROSA regular shape octahedrons with smooth edges.”

Aikhal Mining and Processing Division mines rough diamonds at open-pit mines Yubileyny, Komsomolsky, and underground mine Aikhal.