The Udachny diamond mine is expected to reach its designed annual capacity of 4 million tons of ore by 2019. Once the designed capacity is reached, the Udachny underground mine will be able to provide over 5 million carats of diamonds per year, Alrosa said in a statement.
Open-pit mining at the Udachnaya kimberlite pipe, one of Alrosa’s largest deposits discovered in 1955, started in 1971. Rough diamonds mined at Udachnaya throughout its operation totaled about $80 billion, Alrosa said.
Open-pit mining at the Udachnaya pipe is expected to be fully completed in 2015, until then underground mining and operations in the open-pit mine will run in parallel.
Udachny is the largest underground mine operated by Alrosa. The Russian diamond giant also operates the International and Aikhal underground mines with the designed capacity of 500 thousand tons of ore per year and the Mir underground mine with the designed capacity to reach 1 million tons of ore per year.“An ambitious program for the construction of underground mines is an integral part of Alrosa’s development strategy aiming to keep its world’s leading position in terms of rough diamond mining and ensure the diamond mining growth of up to over 40 million carats,” Alrosa CEO Fyodor Andreyev was quoted as saying at the mine launch ceremony.
“The launch of the Udachny underground mine will allow the company to maintain stable volumes of diamond production in Western Yakutia for many years.”
Alrosa mines diamonds in the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha) and the Arkhangelsk Region in north Russia. In 2013, Alrosa mined 36.9 million carats of diamonds and expects its 2014 output at 36 million carats.
The Russian government is Alrosa’s largest shareholder with a 44% stake while the government of the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha) holds 25% and another 23% of the company’s shares are in free float.