JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - Diamond miner Alrosa has opened a contest with a 1.5-million-rouble reward for the best solution to resume underground mining at its Mir deposit, where operations were suspended in August last year owing to a flood that killed eight people.
The company said this week that it had received and reviewed applications from Alrosa employees, representatives of Russian and foreign countries, scientific academic and industry institutes, design organisations, as well as individuals.
The proposals that passed the qualifying round were diverse, Alrosa added, noting that the majority of applications came from Russian, with one application from South Africa.
Following the results of the qualifying round, 33 applications have been admitted to the next stage of the contest and their authors have been granted access to extended information for more detailed preparation of projects.
Alrosa commented that participants submitted a "great deal of noteworthy proposals" for the resumption of mining at Mir underground mine, including "quite innovative solutions for the use of freezing and plugging technologies, as well as remote-controlled equipment and robotic technology".
Following the results of the contest, the best technical solution or a set of solutions would be determined to be applied in the development of the concept of resumption of mining at the Mir deposit.
"This concept will form the basis of the technological regulations and technical design for safe and cost-effective development of the field reserves," the company stated.
The contest commission would determine the winner and awardees of the contest, with Alrosa first deputy CEO and executive director Igor Sobolev appointed as chairperson and Alrosa chief engineer Andrey Cherepnov as deputy chairperson of the commission.
The commission also includes company chief geologist Konstantin Garanin, Mirny Mining and Processing Division director Alexey Kovalenko and chief engineer of the division Nyurgun Zakharov, as well as representatives of the Yakutniproalmaz Institute and the Mining Department.
The finalists of the contest will be determined on March 12 and the results of the content will be announced on March 21.
Meanwhile, Alrosa on Friday published the results of the international auction for the sale of special size rough diamonds over 10.8 ct at the International Diamond Week in Israel, which was held earlier this month.
The company announced that it had sold 105 gemstones with a total weight of 1 665 ct, with overall revenue from sales amounting to $13.7-million.
"More than 100 companies from different geographical trade and manufacturing centres took part in the auction, 39 companies were recognized as winners, most of whom were from Israel," commented Alrosa deputy CEO Yury Okoemov.
He added that the auction completed with good results, and that the company saw a significant premium to starting price.
According to Russian law, special size rough diamonds over 10.8 ct can only be sold at auction.
Alrosa plans to hold five more auctions in Ramat Gan, Israel.