2003 – Dykes to Access Canadian Diamonds – The Diavik Experience

Richard Olive John Wonnacott, Stefan Schwank

The Diavik Dyke was constructed in 2001/2 in a major sub-Arctic lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories, to permit an open-pit diamond mining operation. The dyke, 3.9km long, was built in water up to 20 metres deep in a period of 17 months. For ten months of this period the lake was frozen. The project was notable for the extreme climate, discontinuous permafrost in the dyke foundations, very difficult logistics and the exceptional environmental constraints.

Project economics dictated a short construction period to permit the early generation of revenue from the mine. To confidently deliver a secure dyke within the time frame, the world’s most technologically advanced cut-off wall equipment was designed and fabricated in Germany.

This paper provides an overview of the dyke and focuses in more detail on the specialty equipment used for the cut-off wall and foundation treatment.

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