DRA (Dowding, Reynard and Associates) has been at the cutting-edge of diamond recovery technology for the past 17 years. The company has designed and supplied a variety of diamond plants, large and small, for leading mining houses on five continents.

In December 2003 DRA was awarded a contract, by Alrosa Istok, to supply a DMS unit for a project in the Russian province of Yakutia. The unit, a fully integrated, modular 55tph DMS plant for treating alluvial diamond gravels, had to be designed to accommodate the extremely harsh environment of the mine, where operations only stop when temperatures drop below -15°C.

The plant was designed to operate at temperatures of -15°C and above and to be stored quite safely in the open at temperatures of below -50°. Material and equipment selection was pivotal to the success of the design and operation of the unit. All steel was specified to tight tolerances to accommodate the extreme temperatures and harsh operating conditions.

The plant was pre-assembled and commissioned in Johannesburg. The modules were packed into standard containers and shipped to St Petersburg. They were flown from there by cargo plane to Yakutia and taken to their final destination, just above the Arctic Circle, by helicopter. The client supplied all necessary infrastructure as the site was inaccessible by road.

DRA engineers working on the project were the first Westerners to operate in this location. Design, construction and delivery of the plant, which was erected in June 2004, was to a tight schedule. The engineers elected to work around the clock and, since the sun does not set in the Arctic Circle at this time of year, the job was completed in a record three days.

This effort is indicative of the standard of work, team dedication and after sales service that have earned DRA an impressive record for completing projects on time and within budget, and placed it among the world leaders in diamond processing projects.