Influence of Highly Permeable Geologic Structure on Inflows to A154 N/S Open Pit Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., Lac de Gras, NWT

CIM Vancouver 2006
Abstract The Diavik Diamond Mine is producing diamonds from two orebodies, the A154 South and A154 North kimberlite pipes, discovered beneath the waters of Lac de Gras. Innovative dike technology with appropriate water collection and treatment systems allowed Diavik to start open pit mining of the ore bodies in 2002. To allow planning, engineering, and implementation of sufficient water handling infrastructure, reasonably accurate estimates of groundwater inflow quality and quantity over the life of mine are required. Prior to mining, a numerical model using the continuum approach was developed for regional and site wide water management. After approximately two years of mining, groundwater inflows to the pit were found to exceed those predicted by the base case hydrogeologic model. The most likely explanation was flow through Dewey’s Fault zone. As this fault was not explicitly accounted for in the model, a detailed hydrogeologic investigation was conducted to evaluate its geometry and hydraulic properties. A multi-disciplined approach was used and involved core logging, fluid logging, geophysical logging, packer testing, a pumping test, and water quality sample collection. The results of the field investigation were used to update the conceptual and numerical models and to develop a Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) model to address small scale problems such as flow into future underground drifts. The updated numerical hydrogeologic models predict that up to 70 per cent of the groundwater inflow to the A154 N/S open pit is through the relatively narrow fractured rock zone associated with Dewey’s Fault. Consistent with the continuum model, the DFN model predicts that inflow to a drift excavated in Dewey’s Fault will be approximately 10 times the inflow to a drift excavated in competent rock. The DFN model provides a better understanding of the distribution of these inflows on a local scale over the length of the drift.
Keywords: Kimberlite, Diamonds
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