The Arctic Canadian Diamond Company is advancing plans to develop a new project at the Ekati diamond mine’s Point Lake.
Point Lake is expected to sustain the mine for at least an extra four years, the company said, until other, larger projects – such as Sable Deep, Fox Deep, and Jay – are ready to get off the ground.
The proposed open pit will use the existing camps, roads, and process plant. The company says the only new infrastructure needed is a 500-metre access road and waste rock storage area.
“At closure, the open pit will be filled with freshwater, the access road will be reclaimed, and the waste rock storage area will be covered,” said Arctic in a briefing document.
There are three current operations at Ekati: open-pit mining at the Pigeon and Sable pits and underground mining at the Misery development. These projects are expected to last around another four years.
By that point the Point Lake project is expected to be operational, running from 2023 to 2027 and giving the company time to get future, larger-scale projects started. Overlapping the various projects will mean mining activity won’t be interrupted, the company said, which in turn means the same equipment and infrastructure can be used and employees can move from one project to the next.
Arctic Canadian – which recently took over the running of Ekati from Dominion Diamond Mines – will spend the next year pursuing appropriate permits for the project, which include two new land-use permits and an amendment to the relevant water licence. The project also needs approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The company says those applications will be submitted this May and, by next summer, Arctic hopes to build the access road, remove fish from Point Lake, and dewater the lake. After site preparation in the fall of 2022, mining could begin by January 2023.
Jon Carlson, Arctic’s senior manager of exploration, said in a presentation he believes the project “has a rapid permitting and development timeframe,” will cause comparatively little disturbance to the environment, and is a manageable financial investment.
Kimberlite was discovered at Point Lake in 1991 but “there were a number of additional major discoveries made in the subsequent years that overshadowed Point Lake for many years,” said Carlson.
“It’s really just in the last several years where we’ve gone back and reinvestigated the Point Lake area.”