On October 31, ALROSA has started commercial diamond production at Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field in Yakutia. The new diamond field will operate for at least 20 years, ensuring reliable diamond production and providing workplaces for local residents.
Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, and Anton Siluanov, the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation, took part in the official ceremony dedicated to start of mining operations. The first industrial explosion at the facility was set off by Aysen Nikolaev, the Head of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), and Sergey Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer of ALROSA Group.
Preparations for mining operations at Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field started in 2015 and lasted for 3 years. During this period, overburden removal (stripping of rock and soil covering the deposit area) was made, rotation camp and infrastructure facilities were constructed, special equipment (such as Scania and Volvo articulated vehicles with cargo carrying capacity of 95 tonnes that are used in Russia for the first time) was designed and purchased.
The project unique feature is that Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field is about 170 kilometers far from the existing infrastructure facilities (processing plant) of Udachny Mining and Processing Division (MPD). Construction of a new processing plant on site would make the project unprofitable. So, one of the key stages of the preparations for mining operations was construction of a service lane that connected Verkhne-Munskoye field with Udachny MPD facilities.
Today Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field is the largest investment project of ALROSA Group. At the stage of preparations for mining operations, the investment amount has reached about 16 billion rubles, and the total estimated investment amount for the whole period of the field development is thought to be about 60 billion rubles (including its maintenance capex till 2042).
Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field will produce about 1.8 million carats of diamonds a year, and its reserves are enough to continue mining operations for more than 20 years (till 2042).
Sergey Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer of ALROSA Group said, "The start of mining operations at Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field is a great event for our company and our Northern industry-based towns. Verkhne-Munskoye field will compensate the decrease in production at other facilities, in particular, it will replace the retired capacities of Mir. Thanks in no small part to this project, ALROSA Group will be able to increase its production volume next year. The reserves of the field will provide additional work load for Processing plant No. 12 of Udachny MPD and ensure its continuous work and stability in life of almost 12 thousand residents of Udachny. I would like to say thank you to all employees of our company, who took part in preparations for this start. You contribute in constant development of our company".
Works at Verkhne-Munskoye Diamond Field will be organized on a rotational basis, month after month. The project will provide more than 800new workplaces for local residents. Gathering stations will be Mirny, Udachny, Aykhal, Santar, Olenek, Lensk.
Along with the shift camp, a new residence building for future field workers has been already constructed and put into service in Udachny. There are 130 apartments in the building, equipped with whatever is required for comfortable living. The total cost of construction and necessary equipment of the residence building is about 700 million rubles.
In accordance with the environmental strategy of ALROSA Group aimed at protection and maintaining integrity of existing natural ecosystems, some peculiarities of Yakutia fauna were taken into consideration in the design of the service lane (road) from the field to Udachny. The company constantly monitors reindeers' migration in the area of operations performed by Udachny MPD to maintain their population level in the area of commercial diamond production and protect the traditional way of life of low-numbered peoples of the North. On the basis of the monitoring results obtained in past years, the design of the service lane to Verkhne-Munskoye field provides 5 crossings to ensure trouble free migration of animals. Thanks to GPS-tracking system used to monitor reindeers, all the equipment can be stopped before a herd starts crossing the road.