A crucial milestone in the development of an underwater remote mining (URM) system has been achieved by the Arctic Canadian Diamond Company and IHC Mining. This was for the extraction of diamond-bearing kimberlite ore gathered from deep open pits at the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
The URM system comprises a floating platform; a land-based dewatering plant and an underwater mining crawler. Arctic has currently awarded IHC Mining with a contract to construct and deliver a Launch and Recovery Platform for the URM system. This contract is the first significant equipment scope being awarded by the Arctic for the URM system, after years of development work.
We are excited to reach this important milestone in the development of an innovative underwater remote mining system with our partner IHC Mining. The URM system has the potential to significantly increase the mine life at Ekati and thereby provide the opportunity for Arctic to continue to make a positive socio-economic contribution to the North for many years to come.
Rory Moore, President and CEO, Arctic Canadian Diamond Company
Arctic and IHC Mining commenced their collaboration in 2018 to collectively develop an innovative and combined mining solution. The starting point for the growth of the underwater remote mining system was to economically withdraw kimberlite from marginal kimberlite pipes and from deep extents of open pits that are completed.
A significant focus was to develop a mining solution that would have a far less environmental impact compared to conventional mining methods. Since the URM crawler only mines the kimberlite ore and minimal waste, it considerably decreases the mine’s footprint. The URM solution could enable the Ekati Diamond Mine to extend its lifetime by at least a decade.
We are very proud to be working with Arctic on this development. The URM system perfectly matches IHC Mining’s mission to deliver sustainable and responsible solutions for the mining industry.
Hans Greve, Managing Director, IHC Mining
The several components of the URM system will be tested stepwise with a production trial at the mined-out Lynx open pit before moving on to bigger depleted open pits. The first step that will be taken is the flooding of the Lynx pit in the summer of 2022.
This will be tracked by testing of the Launch and Recovery Platform in the summer of 2023 and further by extensive URM system testing in the summer of 2024 such as a trial mining operation targeting the extraction of nearly 150,000 tons of Lynx kimberlite ore.
The URM solution is a technological discovery for kimberlite diamond mining. The latest innovative solution which originated from deep-sea mining, and trenching systems has enabled Arctic and IHC Mining to take the next step in the future of diamond-bearing kimberlite mining.