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De Beers gets the OK to flood underground Snap Lake mine

The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has approved De Beers' plan to flood its underground Snap Lake diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.

Flooding part of company's plan to put site on extended care and maintenance

In this file photo, employees work underground at the De Beers Snap Lake mine in N.W.T. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has approved De Beers' plan to flood the mine, which is now in care and maintenance. (CBC)

The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has approved De Beers' plan to flood its underground Snap Lake diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.

It's part of the company's plan to put the site on extended care and maintenance for at least three years or more.

De Beers began the process of shutting down the unprofitable mine in December. 

Flooding the underground tunnels, which would not preclude reopening the mine one day, will save De Beers the trouble of managing water that is high in total dissolved solids — a costly headache that dogged the company for months in the lead-up to the closure.

The lands protection department of the Tlicho Government has expressed concern about there eventually being zero people at the Snap Lake site.

De Beers says it will conduct trials during the first years of extended care and maintenance before the moving to a fully remote system for monitoring the site, which is located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

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