Moscow–Alrosa announced that it has started the development of a new diamond deposit, the Zarya pipe at the Aikhal Mining and Processing Division.
Commercial blasting on Friday marked the first stage of development, stripping the surface to remove barren sedimentary rock on top of the ore body.
The mine is expected to reach its design capacity of 1 million tons of ore annually by 2021 and to have a life of 13 years.
Alrosa said the start of mining operations at Zarya will allow it to replace the dwindling reserves at the Komsomolsky open-pit mine, which also is a part of its Aikhal division.
The company also noted that the development of the Zarya primary diamond deposit is one of its major investment projects, with an expected initial investment of approximately $148.5 million.
“The development of Zarya will guarantee stable use of existing capacities and ensure total rough diamond recovery of 3.6 million carats throughout the mine development,” Alrosa President Andrey Zharkov said.
The Aikhal Mining and Processing Division, established in 1986, mines rough diamonds at open-pit mines Yubileyny and Komsomolsky and underground mine Aikhal. In the first quarter of the year, the division mined 2.68 million carats.
In other news, Alrosa announced the signing of an agreement with JSC Alfa-Bank to refinance a 2014 bank loan in the amount of $720 million, postponing the maturity date from April 28, 2017, to July 1, 2019.
As a result, Alrosa’s repayment schedule for debt on loans and borrowings in the amount of $2.69 billion is as follows: $370 million in 2017; $600 million in 2018; $720 million in 2019; and $1 billion in 2020.