DRA success in the Arctic Circle 

Recently, DRA Mineral Projects received a $2 million order from the Russian diamond miner Alrosa for three modular DMS plants for alluvial mining operations in the Republic of Yakutia in northern Siberia, near the Anabar river. The 50 t/h plants are designed to be compact enough to fit into open top containers while still allowing ease of access for maintenance. The logistics of the project are formidable: the plant is pre-assembled and commissioned in Johannesburg, shipped to St Petersburg, railed to Urkutsk-6,500  km to the east-then trucked north along frozen rivers almost to the Arctic Circle. Here it is set up on site using local labour under DRA supervision via a Russian interpreter.   

The environment is harsh. Operations in this region are restricted to about 100 days a year during the summer months as temperatures in winter drop to -40 ºC or below. Even in midsummer, temperatures may remain below -10 ºC.  Such extreme conditions require low temperature lubricants, steel specified to tight tolerances and special conveyor belting, cabling and switchgear. Plug-in cables are used in the power supply to avoid making cable connections on site. The plant is designed to operate at temperatures of       -15°C and above and to be stored quite safely at temperatures of below -50°. In the winter months, with the plant shut down, equipment liable to get damaged in the extreme cold is removed and placed in relatively warm storage.

This is DRA’s third venture in the area in the past couple of years, the first being a single, fully integrated modular 50 t/h DMS plant at Estok in 2004. At that time, the DRA engineers working on the project became the first Westerners to operate in this location. In 2005, the company was contracted to supply two 50 t/h units for a Kimberlite pipe operation at Aykhal; these served as a replacement for part of the jig section at the existing plant.

DRA has been at the cutting-edge of diamond recovery technology for the past 20 years.  The company has designed and supplied a variety of diamond plants, large and small, for leading mining houses on five continents. The ability of DRA engineers to work in extraordinarily harsh Siberian conditions is indicative of the standard of professionalism and team effort that characterised DRA’s performance in diamond processing projects for the past two decades. www.drasa.co.za