De Beers Canada announced on December 15 it will begin safely flooding the underground workings of Snap Lake mine in early January since it was unable to find a buyer for the mine. This extended care and maintenance program will preserve the long-term viability of the ore body and reduce costs while mitigating environmental risks associated with maintaining dormant operations.
The flooding project will take approximately six to eight weeks to complete, after which Snap Lake mine will enter a long-term phase of care and maintenance primarily focused on environmental monitoring activities. De Beers will run a winter road program in the first quarter of 2017 to remove some inventory and equipment off-site and bring in fuel supplies to the site.
Extended care and maintenance will preserve the significant diamond mineral resource in the ground in the Northwest Territories until market conditions and improved technical methods make the kimberlite more economic to operate.
Snap Lake mine currently employs 55 people. About 35 people will be required once the flooding project is complete. Employees who are displaced will receive consideration for alternate placement at other De Beers facilities where skill sets and vacancies match. Where job opportunities are not immediately available, employees will receive as much notice as possible and a fair and respectful severance package that exceeds regulatory requirements.
Since December 2015, more than 100 former Snap Lake mine employees have been placed at the new Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories, which is operated by De Beers.