The ceremony of the third stage of the Aikhal underground mine startup and reaching its design capacity was held on April 6, 2013.
The Aikhal pipe deposit is one of ALROSA’s oldest deposits, with its open-pit mining being started in 1961 to take more than 30 years. In 1997 the open pit bottom reached the design level of +320m, whereupon open pit mining at the deposit was completed.
Upon decommissioning of the open pit in 1997, the Company started the first underground mining operations. The first start-up facilities of the underground mine were commissioned in 2005, and the second, with the capacity of 250 thousand tons of ore, in 2009. With the startup of the third stage, the underground mine capacity grows up to 500 thousand tons of ore to ensure its annual diamond production of some 2.5 million carats.
According to the results of the audit in 2012 under the JORC Code, the Aikhal pipe reserves exceed 14 million carats of rough diamonds, with the inferred and indicated resources of over 54 million carats.
ALROSA is implementing an extensive program for the construction of underground mines at its deposits, with the full-scale start-up of the Aikhal underground mine being its major stage. Nowadays ALROSA also operates the International underground mine (with the design capacity of 500 thousand tons of ore), the Mir underground mine (with the current capacity of 500 thousand tons of ore and the design capacity of 1 million tons of ore to be reached in 2014); the first stage of the Udachny underground mine is expected to be commissioned in 2014.