Trench cutter sets record depth at Rio Tinto diamond JV

A trench cutter sampling rig is part of the heavy equipment to be used by Rio Tinto this spring. Image by Star Diamond Corp.

Earlier this week, the first 228 metre bulk sample was successfully completed by a Bauer trench cutter at the FalCon diamond evaluation project in Saskatchewan, Canada, jointly owned by Rio Tinto and Star Diamond Corp.

A depth of this magnitude has ever been reached using a trench cutter in a commercial application. Trench cutters are normally used in specialist foundation engineering, and this is an innovative use in the exploration and mining industry.

“Groundbreaking, in more ways than one, this is a significant milestone in using proven technology for a very different application,” comments Rio Tinto project director Gary Hodgkinson.

Through the FalCon project, Rio Tinto and partner Star Diamond are seeking to determine the commercial viability of the Fort a la Corne kimberlite fields.

The Bauer equipment was first tested in September 2018. After a long winter break, operation started at the end of May 2019.

As part of this process, the kimberlite is washed and bagged into bulk bags for further evaluation in multiple steps by Rio Tinto, according to Bauer.

Rio Tinto expects to execute additional bulk samples later this year.

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