October 08 www. bus- ex. com 113 De Beers Canada " You have to have your planning done well ahead of time," said Gowans, " and your engineering, because if it's custom designed you have to have your steel already designed and fabricated, inspected and ready for shipment. If you're doing it yourself you have to make sure your contractors have their equipment and everything up there." Snap Lake is an underground mine, and underground mining is expensive, so equipment has to be chosen that will do the job most effi ciently. " The ore is in a thin ribbon between 1.9 meters and 3.4 meters thick," said Gowans. " The best way to mine it is to use low profi le equipment." The equipment that De Beers has selected to use underground is trackless and low to the ground, making it easier to access areas of low overhead clearance and small spaces. The primary entrance to the mine is therefore a mere fi ve meters wide by 4.5 meters high. Everything involved in the preparation of a new diamond mine seems to involve a high level of complexity. But once you've got the ore body ( kimberlite) out of the ground, the process seems much more straightforward. Diamonds are not chemically attached to the host rock, so recovery is more like harvesting than processing. Having said that, however, we must remember that even where diamonds are found in relative abundance, they are like needles in a haystack. Hundreds of tons of material a day must be processed to reveal a handful of precious stones.
114 www. bus- ex. com October 08 Metalsofthefuture Founded with a vision to exploit an abandoned nickel mine, Liberty Mines took control of its own destiny with the construction of a new nickel concentrator