With the future of conventional mining at the Ekati mine nearing completion, new president and CEO of the Arctic Canadian Diamond Company that owns the mine says the life of the mine could be extended through new technologies. Starting with the Lynx pit in 2023, the company plans to test underwater remote mining (URM) technology, which could extend the mine by decades.
The URM machine operates on four suspended tracks, with a rotating drum in the centre with a blade to cut through kimberlite and includes an auxiliary cutter on the side. A hydrophilic pump sends the cuttings up to the surface to a dewatering plant.
The Company plans to continue conventional mining at the Sable pit until 2024, then over two years flood the pit and send in the URM crawler to scoop out the remaining kimberlite in 2026.