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Gahcho Kue

Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine

Building a new diamond mine in Canada’s challenging north

De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds | Canada | 2010–2017

2018 Award of Excellence
Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards

2016 Project of the Year Award (Montreal)
Project Management Institute (PMI)

420 km winter ice road
from City of Yellowknife to site

2,216
truckloads transported

Video courtesy of the Project Management Institute (PMI). Click here for more information about PMI Professional Awards.

Challenges

  • Build a new mine and diamond processing plant with supporting infrastructure in a location 280 km northeast of Yellowknife, in Canada’s logistically challenging Northwest Territories.
  • A complete greenfield installation, in 2013 only an exploration camp was available to begin site works.
  • In the Arctic climate, all heavy equipment, most bulk supplies, and 24-million litres of fuel had to be trucked-in along a winter road only open during February and March when ice was thick enough for heavy transport.
  • With such a narrow window of opportunity, extreme cold, frequent storms, and white-out conditions, any delay had the potential to seriously jeopardize the project schedule.
  • The completion of the project depended on the success of the winter road campaign in the winter of 2015, when most construction material was shipped to site.

Solutions

  • Managed the full EPCM contract for project implementation.
  • Designed and developed the processing plant and all support facilities to accommodate 560 personnel at peak construction during the Arctic summer in mid-2015. Prepared for continuous operation thereafter, with about 250 full-time employees per rotation at the fly-in/fly-out remote work site.
  • Meticulous logistics and careful contingency plans supported more than 2,000 truckloads of supplies and materials that traveled the 420 kilometres to the site.
  • The process plant was designed to process 3.0 million t/year of kimberlite ore, treated by crushing, screening, dense media separation, and X-ray sorting to produce raw diamonds to be sent to Yellowknife for final cleaning and valuation.

Highlights

  • Recognized by the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards with the Award of Excellence in 2018.
  • Awarded the Viola R. MacMillan Award (Developers Award) by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in 2017.
  • Recognized by the Project Management Institute with the Project of the Year Award in 2016 (Montreal Chapter), Gahcho Kué was one of three finalists for the Global Project of the Year Award in 2017.
  • Gahcho Kué is the fourth diamond mine developed in the Northwest Territories, and the fifth north of the 60th parallel since the early 1990s.
  • The plant is designed to produce approximately 4.5 million carats per annum over the life of the mine, with commercial operation reached in the first quarter of 2017.
  • Gahcho Kué was awarded the 2016 Workplace Health and Safety Award from the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce (Construction, Commissioning and Ramp-up category). The award recognizes an organization that has shown leadership through its commitment to improving health and safety management practices or implementing a new, unique idea to create a safer, healthier work environment.

“The multiple awards that this project has received are a testament to the commitment of every employee and partner that has made Gahcho Kué the success that it is as an operation, having had a tremendous start with a world-class approach and delivery of the project phase."

Allan Rodel | Head of Project, De Beers

Project numbers

1.22 million man-hours with 0 LTIs
C$1.056 billion in cost
24 million litres of fuel on 2015 winter road
560 personnel at peak

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