Small fire makes big impact at Ekati processing plant
|Repairs on Ekati’s processing plant, damaged by a fire in late June, are expected to take three months and cost $25 million | Courtesy of Dominion Diamond Corporation
More than 300 workers were temporarily laid off or reassigned after a fire damaged the processing plant at Dominion Diamond’s Ekati mine, located 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife, on June 23. Dominion, which also owns 40 per cent of nearby Diavik, estimated repairs would take three months and cost $25 million.
The fire broke out at 7 a.m. during a planned shutdown to replace a degritting screen, and was quickly extinguished. All employees working in the area were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported. Although the damage was limited to a small area and most of the items needed to repair the screen are already on site, additional items needed to be ordered and will be delivered by air freight, and ore will be stockpiled until the plant is repaired.
“We’ve planned mining activities to allow for the option to prioritize higher value ore sources on startup, thereby minimizing the impact on the value of our fiscal year production,” said Dominion’s CEO, Brendan Bell, in a press release on July 5.
Dominion will suspend mining kimberlite at the lower-grade Pigeon and Lynx open pits and focus on the higher value Misery open pit and Koala underground operation.
The company also announced in early July that development of the large, high-grade Jay Project, a kimberlite pipe deposit located 30 km southeast of the main Ekati mine infrastructure, would begin next year. Dominion aims to begin mining the deposit in late 2022. The project received approval from the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board in February.
Dominion revised its production forecast for Ekati in the 2017 fiscal year in the wake of the fire; the mine is expected to produce 4.7 million carats, down from the initial estimate of 5.6 million.
– Kylie Williams