North

De Beers gets licence to close Snap Lake mine

A Northwest Territories regulatory board has authorized a closure plan for De Beers's troubled Snap Lake mine. On Friday, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board revealed it has granted a 15-year licence to De Beers Canada to remediate the mine, located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Company plans to demolish buildings and do other closure work over next 8 years

A satellite image of the Snap Lake mine, taken in September 2018 (Submitted by De Beers Group)

A Northwest Territories regulatory board has authorized a closure plan for De Beers's troubled Snap Lake diamond mine.

On Friday, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board revealed it has granted a 15-year licence to De Beers Canada to remediate the mine, located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Snap Lake was De Beers's first mining project outside of Africa. It opened in July 2008 and was expected to operate for 15 years. But it closed after just seven and a half years of operation, as diamond prices fell and the company was unable to address ongoing issues of meeting water quality standards set for the underground mine.

The company estimates it spent more than $2.2 billion to build and operate the mine.

The cleanup plan includes demolishing all buildings at the site, capping and contouring waste rock piles and creating two wetlands to filter runoff from those piles before it re-enters Snap Lake.

The licence allows eight years for that work, plus five years of monitoring after it is done, plus a two-year cushion for any unexpected challenges.

De Beers is required to post a $31.1-million security deposit for the closure.

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