As reported last February, De Beers Canada has been planning to flood the underground workings of its shuttered Snap Lake diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. Reuters reports that their plan has now been approved by the region's land and water board. The company is now considering whether to sell, close, reopen, or continue suspension at the unprofitable Arctic mine, which was shuttered last December due to poor market conditions. Flooding the mine tunnels will cut costs to pump out water and reduce environmental risk, De Beers Canada said in its extended care and maintenance plan. The temporary closure, approved on an interim basis pending required updates, could run for three or more years, depending on market conditions. "The decision is helpful because it really helps us preserve ... a pretty significant resource in the ground," said De Beers Canada spokesman Tom Ormsby. "Companies look at partial or full flooding from an economic point-of-view, as pumping water is expensive."
Snap Lake, which has made no money since production began in 2008, produced 1.2 million carats in 2015 and was due to run until 2028. The operation, which had 595 employees and 200 contractors before the suspension, currently has some 75 staff for ongoing care and maintenance work. In its April application, De Beers Canada said it may investigate a remote water monitoring system, which would need no on-site staff. That would require separate approval, the board said in a decision posted last Wednesday.