Design, Construction and Performance of PKC Dams on Northern Terrain

CIM Montreal 2003
Gerry Ferris,
Abstract The Snap Lake Diamond Project is located approximately 220 km northeast of Yellowknife, NT, Canada at an approximate latitude of 63°35’. The project location is within the zone of continuous permafrost in northern Canada, measured ground temperatures are about –2°C at 10 to 20 m depth below surface. The site is located on a peninsula jutting into Snap Lake. The site is generally barren of vegetation, except for some isolated area of low trees located in topographic lows and near the shoreline of Snap Lake.

As part of phased evaluation process with regards to the mining project, an Advanced Exploration Program was undertaken in 2000 and 2001. This program included the underground extraction of a bulk sample of kimberlite, which was processed on site. A Processed Kimberlite Containment (PKC) area was required as part of this program. The area chosen as the PKC facility was a small inland lake, called Inland Lake #1, on the peninsula. Construction of the PKC area required the construction of two dams, one on either end of the lake. At the south end of the lake, Dam 1 was constructed partially on a talik and partially on continuous permafrost. Dam 2 was constructed entirely on permafrost.

The effects of the remote location, selection of suitable construction materials and permafrost conditions on the designs of the dams are discussed. A description of the design elements, construction schedule and capital costs are provided. A review of the performance of these two dams, in terms of settlement, deformations, pore pressures and thermal regime, over the last several years is provided.
Keywords: Tailings, containment, processed kimberlite, Diamonds, Dams, Design, Performance
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