DiamondCorp has installed the 400t per hour underground conveyor belt system to operate from South Africa's Lace mine up to the surface, with commissioning underway.
DiamondCorp CEO Paul Loudon said: "Installation of the conveyor belts ahead of the ramp-up in production from the Upper K4 (UK4) mining block is a significant milestone in the construction of the Lace mine."
According to the company, commissioning is set for completion by the end of this month, with the conveyor then used to transport all future kimberlite and development waste mined at Lace to the surface. This is expected to result in a reduction in the cost per tonne to load and haul rock.
DiamondCorp will use dump trucks for transporting the kimberlite at a planned rate of up to 30,000t per month from the UK4 production level to the conveyor belt.
Upon progressing of the UK4, the conveyor belt will be extended down to the first block cave level.
The company has doubled the capacity of the conveyor belt to ensure that future opportunities for increasing the underground mining rate are not constrained by an inability to transport ore.
At present, the planned mining rate at Lace of 1,200,000t a year is constrained by the availability of processing water.
The company plans to address the issues by introducing an improved de-grit circuit and x-ray and/or optical waste sorting technology.
DiamondCorp said the de-grit circuit and waste sorting technology when used together, have the potential for the Lace deposit to be mined at a faster rate.
The Lace Diamond Mine is located 200km south-west of Johannesburg, near the town of Kroonstad in Free State Province and was first mined between 1901 and 1931, with around 4.5 million tonnes of rock having been extracted down to 240m below the surface.