Russia’s Alrosa (MCX:ALRS), the world’s top diamond producer by output in carats, plans to resume operations at its Mir mine, which has been shuttered since 2017, with work on the project set to start in 2024, local authorities have said.
The underground diamond mine, which accounted for about 9% of Alrosa’s output before operations were suspended, flooded when water poured into a shaft from an open-pit mine above it, killing eight people.
Its former manager, Alexey Burkser, was found dead in a pre-trial detention centre in October, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of violating safety rules. Authorities said there were indications that his death had been a suicide.
The governor of Yakutia, where the mine is located, said on Wednesday that restoration of Mir would “definitely take place.” Aysen Nikolaev’s comments contrast with several previous statements from both Alrosa and regional authorities indicating the reopening of the mine was under study.
Last year, Alrosa said determining the viability of resuming operations at Mir required deep level exploration — down to -1,300 metres — to confirm the mine’s reserves and will cost about $32 million (RUB2 billion).
“If the decision is made that restoring the underground mine is worthwhile,” the state-owned company said at the time, “construction would take six to eight years, based on initial estimates.”
Last week, Alrosa began test drilling at the site to determine how feasible the full resumptions of operations is. Such work is expected to take one to two years.
With files from Reuters.