Russia’s largest diamond miner, the ALROSA Group, is set to begin underground operations at its Udachny project in northeast Russia. The project is expected to produce the country’s largest diamond mine.
The Russian state-controlled diamond mining company plans to begin commercial production from the beneath-the-surface kimberlite pipe, which is projected to generate over five million carats of diamonds per year. ALROSA said the underground mining will begin in parallel to the open-pit mine until next year, aiming to produce between 2.4 to 3 million tons of ore per year by 2016.
"An ambitious program for the construction of underground mines is an integral part of ALROSA's development strategy aiming to keep its world's leading position in terms of rough diamond mining and ensure the diamond mining growth up to over 40 million carats. Launch of the Udachny underground mine will allow the Company to maintain stable volumes of diamond production in Western Yakutia for many years," said Alrosa CEO Fyodor Andreev at the official commissioning ceremony.
The Udachny mine has produced approximately $80 billion from precious gems since its 1955 discovery. The mine site, which means “lucky”, has become one of Russia’s major diamond-mining centers in recent years.
In addition to the mine, ALROSA operates the International and Aikhal underground mines. The company’s main processing facilities are in Western Yakutia and the Arkhangelsk region, as well as in Africa – in Angola and Botswana.
The ALROSA Group is currently developing 22 deposits and accounts for over a third of the world’s diamonds. The company is known for owning and operating the former Mir diamond mine, which closed down in 2001.