The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB) welcomes comments and recommendations related to the application by De Beers to expand its Gahcho Kué diamond mine site.
Comments are welcome until May 4 and can be submitted to the board’s Online Review System.
The company has submitted amendment applications for its water license and land use permit to undertake activities related to the expansion of 5034 pit at Gahcho Kué, where more economically viable ore has been discovered.
De Beers submitted a project description of its proposed expansion to the MVLWB in February. The project will entail expanding the mine’s kimberlite storage facility and dykes, adding more mine rock to the processed kimberlite pile and, adjusting the pit’s footprint and extending the life of the mine.
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The project also includes plans for a 40-acre solar farm south of the mine camp area and walking trail at the site.
Since its initial submission to the board, De Beers withdrew on April 21 its request to extend the water license term for two more years, as De Beers’ regulatory specialist William Liu wrote in a letter to the MVLWB.
As it stands, that license will expire in 2028, two years before the mine’s planned end of life, said the board’s executive director Shelagh Montgomery.
“If (De Beers) has mining to do beyond September 2028 they will be able to apply for a water license renewal,” she said.
The Gahcho Kué mine remains in operation although in March De Beers sent home 15 workers due to safety concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic and introduced other measures to guard against the spread of the virus.
The pandemic isn’t affecting its plans to continue with its application to expand the mine, said company spokesperson Terry Kruger in an email.
“While the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy, Gahcho Kué’s life of mine as stated in March 2020 continues to be 2030.”
The $1.1 billion Gahcho Kué project sits 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife at Kennady Lake and employs about 267 NWT residents. Its three active pipes are 5034, Hearne and Tuzo.