Sleeping Giant Public Information
|Owners||De Beers S.A.|
|Operator||De Beers Canada Exploration Inc.|
|Production||779,000 carats (2011)|
|Deposit Type||Kimberlite hosted diamond deposit|
|Reserves & Resources||4.7 million carats (2011)|
|Mining Method||Open pit|
|Processing Method||Crushing, grinding, Dense Medium Separation (DMS), diamond separation plant|
|Mining Equipment||Trucks (100t) & shovels, dozers, supporting equipment|
|Contact Information||310 - 119 Pine Street South
CAN P4N 2K3
Last updated: July 16, 2012
The 5,000 ha diamond mine is located high in the Canadian Arctic, approximately 90 km west of the community of Attawapiskat, which lies on the shores of James Bay in northern Ontario.
Victor is the first diamond mine for the province of Ontario and De Beers second Canadian mine.
The Victor kimberlite body is one of the 16 diamondiferous kimberlite pipes that have been discovered on the property. It covers an area of 15 ha and consists of two pipes that coalesce at the surface. Estimated recovered grade for the deposit is 0.23 carats per tonne.
It is an open-pit mining operation employing typical truck and shovel equipment: 100 t haul trucks, large front-end loaders, dozers and a wide range of supporting equipment.
Victor mine is expected to produce 2.7 million tones of kimberlite ore per year at CDN$41 per tonne. The 700 t per day processing plant is slated to produce 600,000 carats per year at a weighted average value of US$419 per carat. It is regarded as an operation that will produce a great deal of gem quality diamonds.
Equipment and supplies arrive at the site by means of a winter road. It is a fly-in fly-out operation for the 375 employees that commute by air from Timmins and other local coastal communities - the site boasts a year round all-weather airstrip.
The mine was officially opened on July 26, 2008. Actual mine life is estimated at 12 years and total project life is expected to be 17 years. Exploration and bulk sampling activities continue in a bid to extend the life of the mine.
Ontario, 'great lake' in the Huron language, is a central located Canadian province stretching from the shores of the Great Lakes in the south to the frigid coasts of the Hudson Bay in the north.
Attawapiskat is a 1,300 strong Mushkego James Bay Cree community. It is connected year-round to the rest of the world by air flights that use a gravel runway. On winter time a temporary ice road links it to other coastal communities.
The Victor mine site is located some 90 km west of the community of Attawapiskat and could be reached by means of a seasonal winter road.
The 170 Ma Victor kimberlite body is the largest of the 16 diamondiferous kimberlite pipes that have been discovered on the property. It covers an area of 15 ha and it is made of two pipes that coalesce at the surface - Victor North and South.
The pipes contrast with most of the African diamondiferous kimberlite bodies. They cut through the Precambrian basement of the Superior Province and the unconformably overlying Paleozoic sedimentary rocks (flat limestone beds). The pipes have been infilled with pyroclastic and hypabyssal-like kimberlites. No diatreme facies has been encountered to date.
Because of the fact that Victor South has a bowl shape and flares from below a known aquifer layer of sandstone it was presumed that phreatomagmatic processes have played an important role in excavating the crater.
Another seldom documented feature is the fact that Victor North crater hosts two nested vents.
The 16 kimberlite pipes that surround the mine are all within a 25 km radius. Exploration proved that they are smaller than the Victor pipes and have not been proved economic to date but more work needs to be done on them in order to have them properly assessed.
Victor open pit mine is a classic truck and shovel operation that employs 100 t haul trucks, large front-end loaders, dozers and a wide range of supporting equipment.
The mine site covers an area of 5,000 hectares. The final pit would be 220 m deep and 1-2 km wide.
Huge efforts had to be made to build and operate an open pit mine in permafrost territory in unstable ground which is boggy and soaked in water on summer time.
The site facilities include warehouses, workshops, offices, fuel storage, pit dewatering systems and an accommodation complex.
The mine is supplied by means of an ice road for several months per year and by air all year round.
Victor mine is expected to produce 2.7 million tones of kimberlite ore per year at CDN$41 per tonne.
The open-pit mine has an expected life of 12 years and a total project life of 17 years.
De Beers' tremendous experience in diamond recovery helped the company develop specific techniques used to maintain diamond value while improving the process efficiency.
The kimberlite rock is reduced in size through comminuting which is the process of liberating entrapped diamonds in recovery plants. High pressure grinding rolls are being carefully used in order to prevent diamond breakage.
In a Dense Medium Separation (DMS) plant a suspension of ground rock and finely ground ferrosilicon slurry is fed to a cyclone where a gravitational process separates waste rock from a heavy mineral concentrate that contains diamonds. Water and ferrosilicon are recovered and reused. At this stage the 'waste' rock is re-crushed allowing for the recovery of smaller diamonds.
Next, the DMS concentrate goes to the recovery section where the concentrate is going to be separated based on the physical and chemical properties of diamonds. Successive steps include a magnetic separation of the concentrate followed by an X-ray bombardment of the non-magnetic section, whereby the diamonds would turn luminescent and will be recovered. After that the final stage involves single particles Laser Raman sorters that use laser light to stimulate the remaining diamonds and thus differentiate them from luminescent gangue minerals.
Final 95 percent by weight diamond concentrates are then packed, weighed and sent to the sorting, cleaning and valuation facility.
Benign tailings are deposited in a containment area after thickening. Coarse rejects are being used to build containment walls.
The 700 t per day processing plant was estimated to produce 600,000 carats per year at a weighted average value of US$419 per carat.
De Beers agreed to have 10% of diamond production locally cut and polished.
Approximately $1 billion was spent on construction of the mine, with approximately C$167 million spent with Aboriginal businesses or joint venture partners. It is also estimated that De Beers will contribute C$6.7 billion cumulative GDP impact for all of Ontario during the life of the Victor Mine.
The Victor mine has to deal with important environmental issues: wildlife and habitat displacement, water, fisheries and waste management.
Compared to other types of mining, diamond mining has less impact on the environment. No chemicals are being used to recover diamonds from the rock and the rock itself is not generating acid rock drainage.
The company has in place a proper Environmental Monitoring System that will take place throughout the life of the project and will continue several years after the closure. De Beers intends to re-vegetate the mine site area by using indigenous plants only.
In May 2004, the project received a stand-alone ISO 14001 accreditation for
the care and maintenance phase of its Environmental Management System.
De Beers is committed to sustainable development in local communities The Victor Mine has signed four community agreements for the Victor Mine including:
In partnership with local colleges and organizations it organized Process Plant Trainee courses for local students willing to join the mining operations. Its first class graduated in 2007.
In a bid to promote and encourage literacy over 5,800 books were delivered by Victor employees to more than 1,600 students in local coastal communities.
In 2011, Aboriginal spending was $57 million, and social investment amounted to $2.9 million.