Production in the Diavik Mine began in January 2003. By 2013, Diavik had produced 84 million carats.
In this time series, you will notice something different about the mine pits of Diavik. The diamond ore is under the lake, so the pits were built in the lake. To protect the water of Lac de Gras, a dike was built before digging the pit.
Construction is a challenge in this remote location with a short construction season. The dikes had to be completed when the lake was not frozen—only about a 4-month period. The first dike was made watertight in 2002 and was pumped dry 3 months later. Silty water was cleaned before being sent back to the lake. A smaller dike was completed in 2006. The dikes allow safe mining in the open pits.
In September 2012, Diavik transitioned from an open-pit mine to an underground mine. More engineering and construction feats were needed for this change. Ventilation systems, pump stations, 12 miles of tunnels, vertical tunnels for ventilation and water removal, and other rooms make the underground mining possible. Diavik is expected to operate through 2023.
Diavik has a private airstrip of its own. The 1,600-meter (1-mile) long runway can accommodate Boeing 737s. It’s visible in the images as the straight line north of the mining operations.