A Kiewit-led joint venture completed three contracts from January 2000 to March 2003 to construct portions of the Diavik Diamond Mine located 300 km. northeast of Yellowknife. The project site, which is 222 km. south of the Arctic Circle, experiences wind chills in January and February as low as –55° to –75°C.
The first contract, a C$58 million earthworks/infrastructure package, included fast-track mobilization of more than 800 loads of equipment and supplies for construction of the mine facilities. Materials had to be trucked over a 450-km. ice road, which consisted of frozen lakes and was accessible only 10 weeks of the year. Given this limited window, careful planning and coordination were critical.
Following mobilization, an industrial town had to be constructed from the ground up, including living facilities, maintenance shops, offices, a diesel power generating station, water and sewage treatment facilities, and an ore processing containment structure. Crews also constructed a 1,600-metre-long airstrip capable of handling Boeing 737s. Other infrastructure work involved building 10 km. of haul roads, fuel storage areas, quarry facilities and sedimentation ponds.
The owner's satisfaction with this early infrastructure work led to follow-on contracts for construction of the 3.9-km. water retention dike encircling the diamond deposits, overburden removal, and concrete work. The mine is expected to yield approximately 100 million carats of diamonds, worth more than C$10 billion, over the next 20 years.