Udachny diamond mine owned by Alrosa Mining is located near the town of Udachny in the Sakha Republic region of Russia.
The mine was discovered on 15th June 1955 and the mining activities began in 1971. The first stage of mining and processing complex was commissioned in 1976.
Udachny is currently mined to a depth of more than 630m, which makes it one of the 10 deepest open-pit mines in the world.
Alrosa has also developed underground mining at Udachny as the open pit mining resources are getting exhausted. The underground mine was commissioned in June 2014 and is expected to become Russia’s biggest underground diamond mine when it reaches full capacity in 2019. Open pit mining is expected to be completed in 2015, while underground mining will be carried out in parallel.
The Udachny mining pipe is a part of Udachnaya Mining Processing Division (UMPD). The UMPD was established in 1979 and accounts for approximately nine percent of Alrosa’s total output.
Udachny diamond mine geology
The Udachny mine is part of the Daldyn-Alakit field consisting of kimberlite rocks. The region is situated in the central part of the Yakutian diamondiferous province.
The base rocks of Daldyn-Alakit are located at depths of 2,500m to 3,100m. It intersects the regional Vilyui-kotui deep-seated fault zone.
The Kimberlite rocks contain eskolaite mineral within the natural diamond.
The ore body of Udachny mine is divided into Eastern and Western ore bodies beyond 250m depth. The ore bodies are separated by a block of Upper Cambrian sedimentary rocks.
Udachny diamond mine reserves and production
The Udachny diamond mine has proven and probable reserves of approximately 120 million carats as of July 2013.
The JORC-compliant diamond resources are approximately 220 million carats.
The Udachny mine produced approximately 10 million carats of diamonds until 2011. The production fell to 5.6 million carats in 2012. Production in the first half of 2013 stood at 2.8 million carats.
Diamond mining at Udachny
Uphole longhole retreat stoping and bottom ore mucking mining methods are used at the Udachny diamond mine.
A continuous miner is being used for the development mining and a raise borer for developing the raise between levels. Access to the mine below the 320m level is provided by three vertical shafts.
Ore is extracted using the blasting method, loaded by excavators and loaders into mine trucks, and delivered to the processing plant no.12.
The steep ore body is mined using a circular system of development from the centre to the periphery. Level stripping is conducted using the temporary crossovers.
Processing plant and infrastructure at Udachny mine
Ore from the Udachny mine is currently processed at the processing plant no.12. The processing plant was set up in 1976 and has a capacity of 11 million tonnes per year.
The diamond processing facility comprises of seven 9m grinders. The steel casings of the tailings facility are of 6in. diameter and are extended to a height of about 8ft above the dam crest.
The casings are attached with metal fins at the top, in order to increase the heat-exchange rates.
New resilient liner materials and pipelines are installed at the ore-dressing factories and open-pit drains. The mining fleet includes 40 Caterpillar ???-785? dump trucks with a load capacity of 136t.
Udachny underground mine construction details
Construction of the underground mine at Udachny began in 2004 and is being carried out in the first stope region on a newly created site. It is expected to have a depth of 320m to 365m.
The total capital expenditure incurred one the underground project as of 2012 was RUB 6,776.7m.
The first start-up complex of the underground mine was commissioned in 2012 and the commercial production is expected to commence in 2015. It is expected to produce 2.4Mt to 3.0Mt per annum by 2016 and reach its full intended capacity of 4Mtpa by 2019. The cumulative production by 2034 is expected to reach 72.3Mt of ore.