Tag Archives: Aikhal Division

ALROSA looks to reclaim Aikhal tailings pit as part of 650 ha land restoration project

ALROSA plans to reclaim the tailings pit of processing plant No. 8 at its Aikhal Division by 2029 in a project worth over RUB2.5 billion ($34.3 million) that will seek to restore 650 ha of land and have it planted with pine forests, the diamond miner says.

The tailings pit is located 1.2 km southwest of the village of Aikhal (pictured) in the Sokhsolookh River valley in Yakutia, Russia. The decision to reclaim the facility followed the completion of mining at the Komsomolsky open pit and the closure of processing plant No. 8 at the end of 2020.

During the plant’s operations, tailings were stored in the tailings pit as a liquid slurry. In terms of environmental danger, the slurry belongs to the lowest hazard waste category (virtually non-hazardous waste or category 5 under the Russian Federal Law on Industrial and Consumer Waste), ALROSA says. The tailings pit was a key hydrotechnical facility ensuring water recirculation at the processing plant: after the slurry settled in the pit, clarified water was fed back into the plant to be re-used in processing diamond ore, the company explained.

The reclamation project will be implemented in two stages.

The first stage will include draining the pit and restoring a part of the original course of the Sokhsolookh River back to its natural state.

Later on, from 2025 to 2029, the tailings facility will be dismantled, and work will be carried out to improve the land, dig drainage ditches, install waterproofing, lay fertile soil and landscape the area. To achieve this, 160,000 Scots Pine seeds have been sown in 2021 in a disused sand and gravel open pit not far from the Aikhal village. This conifer is not native to this area and does not grow locally on its own.

Once all the work is complete, the land beneath the tailings pit will be restored to its original condition and, as mentioned, over 650 ha of replanted area will be handed over to local authorities.

ALROSA shores up tailings dump safety with automated wireless monitoring

ALROSA says it has approved the introduction of automated wireless monitoring systems at the hydraulic structures of its tailings dumps as it looks to further reduce the risk of emergencies, improve operational safety of the structures and facilitate the accumulation of data on their operations for future analysis.

The automated wireless monitoring system (AWMS) consists of a network of sensors installed at the existing observation wells of the hydraulic structures (HS) at tailings dumps, and serve to provide early warnings in case of deviation from safe parameters, the diamond-focused company said.

The system monitors all key parameters of a hydraulic structure, including water levels in open reservoirs, water pressure in wells and soil temperature.

Konstantin Kolegov, ALROSA’s Deputy Chief Engineer for Hydraulic Structures, said: “Industrial and environmental safety is our top priority. The company’s dedicated units gather the HS data according to the schedule. The AWMS minimises the human error factor and reduces the risk of emergencies at HS, including tailings dumps and hydraulic power systems, as it can send real-time alerts of changes in key parameters. Moreover, the system, which was first introduced last year at Aikhal Division, will help accumulating and analysing data on the condition of hydraulic structures to optimise their performance.”

Cutting-edge technologies provide an opportunity to source the necessary information much faster and frequent compared with manual monitoring, ALROSA said. Thanks to the Manufacturing Execution System integration, the collected data will become available to all required personnel in the company.

During the first stage of implementation in 2020, the equipment was installed and commissioned at the tailings dump of processing plant No. 14 at Aikhal Division. Stage two provides for the AWMS to be installed at two tailings dumps of processing plant No. 12 of Udachny Division in 2021, and at two facilities of Nyurba and Mirny (open pit, pictured) Divisions in 2022. Following this, the system will be expanded to include the remaining hydraulic structures in Mirny, Udachny, Aikhal and Nakyn.

Total investments during the two stages are estimated at around RUB 100 million ($1.3 million), ALROSA said.