Botuobinskaya is targeted to produce 1 million carats in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Alrosa)
Botuobinskaya is targeted to produce 1 million carats in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Alrosa)

Russian diamond producer Alrosa has started mining ore from the Botuobinskaya kimberlite pipe at its Nyurba Mining and Processing Division (Nyurba MPD) in the Republic of Sahka (Yakutia) in Russia’s Far East. The pipe is expected to produce 230,000 metric tons (mt) of ore and about 1 million carats of rough diamonds in 2015. When the mine reaches its design capacity of 400,000 mt/y of ore, its diamond production will exceed 2 million carats/y.

Botuobinskaya has been developed as an open-pit mine. Stripping operations began in 2013. Ore processing takes place at existing Nyurba MPD processing facilities.

Botuobinskaya is located in the Nakyn ore field, 3 km from the Nyurbinskaya pipe, the main deposit of the Nyurba MPD. The launch of mining at Botuobinskaya will compensate for a decrease in production from the Nyurbinskaya pipe and allow Nyurba MPD to maintain stable production volumes at 7.5 million carats/y of rough diamonds.

According to the Russian ore reserves classification system, reserves of rough diamonds at Botuobinskaya totaled 93.021 million carats at an average diamond grade of 5.65 carats/mt as of January 1. Indicated resources totaled 70.994 million carats an average grade of 5.19 carats/mt. Under JORC standards, the reserves totaled 71.044 million carats.

The pipe’s diamonds are characterized by a relatively large proportion of gem-quality and near-gem-quality crystals with a high degree of transparency.

At the official Botuobinskaya opening ceremony, acting Alrosa President Ilya Ryashchin said, “Over the past few years, Alrosa has invested significant funds in building new production capacities. The newly commissioned Botuobinskaya pipe is the first new pipe in Yakutia over the last 10 years. The development of this deposit is included in Alrosa’s long-term development strategy, which envisages an increase of diamond production to 41 million carats/y through putting new pipes into operation.”

Alrosa’s 2014 diamond production totaled 36.2 million carats.