The De Beers Group has announced it has placed its Snap Lake diamond mine on care and maintenance, with mining activities to cease immediately. The decision follows a review of the mine’s operation, particularly in light of current market conditions. De Beers will evaluate market conditions over the next year to determine the potential of the ore body as a viable mine. Work to suspend production at Snap Lake has begun, and is expected to last between one to nine months. Suspension work will require approximately 120 employees, while the care and maintenance phase will require approximately 70 employees. 41 employees have been transferred to De Beers’ Gahcho Kué Project. 434 employees have been laid off.
Kim Truter, Chief Executive of De Beers Canada, said: “The men and women at Snap Lake have put enormous effort into this challenging ore body over many years, but even the gains made this year are not enough to overcome the market conditions and put us in a profitable position." Local sources have indicated that groundwater issues have eaten away at the mine's viability. Last March, Glen Koropchuk, De Beers Canada's chief operating officer, said that, "Snap Lake mine cannot continue to operate if a level of [total dissolved solids] is set that is not sustainable." He said De Beers has already spent $20 million to capture and release TDS-high water at Snap Lake. It's one of several unanticipated issues Koropchuk says De Beers has faced at Snap Lake since the mine opened in 2008. "In its seven years of operation, Snap Lake has not turned a profit."