Alrosa to invest $34m to reclaim tailings pit at Aikhal

The decision to reclaim the tailings pit of processing plant No. 8 followed the completion of mining at the Komsomolsky open pit, pictured here. (Image courtesy of Alrosa).

Alrosa (MCX: ALRS), the world’s top diamond miner by output, announced that it is planning to invest $34.3 million to reclaim the tailings pit of processing plant No. 8 at its Aikhal division by 2029. 

The tailings pit is located 1.2 kilometres southwest of the village of Aikhal in the Sokhsolookh River valley in Yakutia, eastern Russia. During the plant’s operations, tailings were stored in the tailings pit as a liquid slurry which, according to the company, was virtually non-hazardous waste or category 5 under the Russian Federal Law on Industrial and Consumer Waste.

The tailings pit was a hydro-technical facility that ensured water recirculation at the processing plant. This implied that after the slurry settled in the pit, clarified water was fed back into the plant to be reused in processing diamond ore.

In a media statement, Alrosa said that the reclamation project will be implemented in two stages.

The first stage will include draining the pit and restoring a part of the original course of the Sokhsolookh River back to its natural state.

Later on, from 2025 to 2029, the tailings facility will be dismantled, and work will be carried out to improve the land, dig drainage ditches, install waterproofing, lay fertile soil and landscape 650 hectares of land where pine forests will be planted.

Work has already begun with the sowing of 160,000 scots pine seeds – a species that is not native to this area and does not grow locally on its own – in a disused sand and gravel open-pit not far from the Aikhal village.

“Once all the work is complete, the land beneath the tailings pit will be restored to its original condition and over 650 hectares of the replanted area will be handed over to local authorities,” the miner’s statement reads. 

According to Alrosa, the decision to reclaim the facility followed the completion of mining at the Komsomolsky open pit and the closure of processing plant No. 8 at the end of 2020.

The Aikhal division was established in 1986 and includes the Komsomolsky, Yubileyny and Aikhal mines, the latter being one of Russia’s and the world’s largest diamond mines.

Mining at Aikhal was put on care and maintenance from May 15 to September 30, 2020, due to the covid-19 pandemic.

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