De Beers applies to expand Gahcho Kué diamond mine

An aerial view of the 5034 pit at Gahcho Kué Mine. (Submitted photo)

De Beers Canada is hoping to extend the life of its Gahcho Kué diamond mine by two years.

Earlier this month, the company applied to amend its various permits with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

In its application, it says “economically viable ore” was found last year north of its 5034 pit.

“Incorporation of this ore into the mine plan will require the removal of additional mine rock and the deposit of additional processed kimberlite,” reads its application.

To do so, the mine needs to expand the dykes to increase the capacity of its fine processed kimberlite containment facility, add mine rock to its coarse processed kimberlite pile, and adjust the depth and footprint of the pit.

Each level of the 5034 pit is about 30 metres high. (Submitted photo).

Despite these changes, according to the application, active closure would still only last two years.

The mine is located on the shores of Kennady Lake, about 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. The refilling of the lake and post-closure monitoring would take an additional two years—21 to 33-plus in total.

A week before De Beers submitted its application, the territorial government released its proposed 2020-2021 budget.

Unsurprisingly, it highlighted the “steep declines in diamond production.”

The ongoing effects of the coronavirus outbreak add an additional layer of economic uncertainty.

On Monday, the MVLWB sent a letter to De Beers asking for additional information. Now the company has 90 days to provide that info or its application will not move forward.

De Beers also has a separate land use permit amendment application to install a solar farm at the mine site, “to reduce the diesel reliance and (greenhouse gas) emissions.”

If that application goes through, construction on the solar farm could begin this summer.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.