29 May 2023 15:37

Alrosa to launch Mir mine restoration in 2023, first diamonds expected in 2030-2031 - Yakutia leader

MOSCOW. May 29 (Interfax) - Alrosa plans this year to launch a project to restore the Mir diamond mine, the leader of the internal Russian republic of Yakutia, Aysen Nikolayev, said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We have been designing a new mine in recent years, now it is fully designed. The company is already allocating investment funds. We have received approval for this from the country's government. All decisions have been made through the supervisory board, and we are launching this major project this year," Nikolayev said.

The first commercial diamonds will be mined in 2030-2031, he said.

The Mir diamond pipe contains very high quality diamonds, and the project "will enable the city of Mirny and Alrosa to exist for another 50 years," he said.

The Mir underground mine was flooded in August 2017, when water from the depleted open-pit mine above it broke through. There were 151 people in the flood zone and eight of them died. Mine workings and equipment were completely destroyed, and two horizons were flooded.

The ore of the Mir deposit has a high content of high quality diamonds, and before the flood the mine accounted for more than 10% of the Alrosa Group's production.

The project to restore Mir involves building a new underground mine, Mir-Gluboky, at an estimated cost of 126 billion rubles, Nikolayev said in November last year. Yakutia proposed signing an investment protection and promotion agreement for the mine to mitigate the risks of the lengthy investment period for the 20-year duration of the project's implementation, Nikolayev said at the time.

Alrosa at the beginning of 2022 estimated the cost of restoring the Mir mine at $1.2 billion-$1.5 billion and said construction would take six to nine years. In 2019, the first tentative estimates put the cost of the project at 73 billion rubles. Alrosa said in March 2019 that it did not think it would be possible to start restoring the mine before 2024,

Alrosa in September 2021 sent out a request for proposals for engineering and environmental surveys to draft the blueprints for two shafts at the Mir mine.