On August 21st, 2009 the Mir Underground Mine was officially commissioned in Mirny, Yakutia. The ceremony was attended by Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Vyacheslav Shtyrov, President of ALROSA Fyodor Andreev and personnel of the diamond mining company.
Mir is Russia’s second underground diamond mine. The first one was International (put into operation in 1999), the construction of which enabled ALROSA to gain experience in building and operating an underground mine in conditions of the Arctic North.
The Mir Mine, which between 1957 — 2001 when it was operated as an open cast mine produced USD 17 billion worth of rough diamonds, has become a true symbol of the Russian diamond mining industry.
The conversion of Mir into an underground mine cost ALROSA RUB 22 billion. According to experts, the costs will be returned in three and a half years. The estimated mine life is 50 years. Its design capacity is one million tons of ore per annum. This year Mir will supply 150 thousand tons of diamond-bearing ore for processing.
Today the aggregate length of the mine tunnels and workings is well in excess of 10 kilometres. The hight of headframe constructions is up to 60 m. On March 7, 2002 sinking of the cage shaft and in August 2003 of the skip (cargo) shaft commenced. The cage shaft is 1050 m and the skip shaft is 1036 deep, respectively. Over 350 thousand cubic metres of rock mass were excavated. Each shaft was sunk at the rate of 50 m per month. The rate of horizontal tunnelling was at 320 m per month, a record rate in the mine building practice.
Now ALROSA is building in parallel three underground diamond mines in Yakutia — at the mine sites of Mir, Aikhal and Udachny. Their construction was necessitated either by the conservation or a near end of life of the open pit mines.
It was proven by geologists a long time ago that the remaining ore reserves were sufficient to make the exploitation of the diamond deposits economically viable also in an underground mine mode, which enables ALROSA, and Russia, to keep its niche on the rough diamond market.
Putting the underground mine of Aikhal at its full annual production capacity of 500 thousand tons is scheduled for 2012. Its second start-up facility is planned to be commissioned in December 2009.
The undergroound mine of Udachny will be one of the world’s biggest mines of its kind — its effective capacity will be 4 million tons of ore per annum. Construction works at the mine site began in 2004. In 2011 the first start-up facility with a design capacity of 500 thousand tons of ore per annum is scheduled to be put into operation, and in 2014 the mine will be producing at its design capacity.
Over USD 2.8 billion will be allocated for the construction of the tree mines over the period of ten years (from 2005 to 2014), the aggregate capacity of the mines being six million tons of ore per annum.
After the official ceremony of commissioning at the Mir Mine the ALROSA President attended a working meeting held by the Chairman of the RF Government and dedicated to the economic development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).