Twenty years ago, “going green” wasn’t quite the popular phrase that it is today. However, that many years ago, Joseph Dos Santos, President of Dos Santos International and inventor of the Sandwich belt high angle conveyor, was presented with a challenge to go green like no other. The challenge? Use the least amount of space possible to process and separate one of Earth’s greatest treasures. This was the motivation for the installation of five DSI Sandwich belt high angle Conveyors in Northern Canada. 

The first project came to fruition in the Northwest Territories, at Canada’s first completely underground diamond mine – Snap Lake. The frozen tundra, untouched by industry, holds beautiful diamonds deep beneath the surface.  The Snap Lake ore body is a dyke that dips an average of 12-15° from the northwest shore down under the lake.  Kimberlite, the diamond bearing ore, is brought to the surface, to a processing facility, where the diamonds are extracted.

DSI Snake Sandwich Conveyor for Continental CN at Snap Lake Diamond Mine
The DSI Sandwich high angle conveyor was ideal for its space saving features at the mine in Snap Lake.

Because of the hostile environment the facilities had to be enclosed and heated. A smaller footprint for the plant was determined to be the optimal way to minimize environmental impact and cost.

Because of Snap Lake’s remote location, building and operating the mine required careful planning. This led to pursuit of the DSI Sandwich belt high angle conveyor because of its space saving features. In the process building, the kimberlite had to be elevated then discharged into the various crushing, screening and sorting functions.  The original concept was to use a multitude of DSI Sandwich conveyors to minimize the facilities.  This was ultimately rationalized to require only two DSI Sandwich conveyors, which defined the facilities minimal footprint.  The ability to convey at any high angle made the DSI Sandwich conveyor ideal. 

The Sandwich belt technology imparts a gentle yet firm hugging pressure on the material in the belt sandwich. This allowed the precious gems within the kimberlite to be elevated at high angles without damage or spillage. The Snap Lake project incorporated two DSI Sandwich conveyors, each travelling to opposite ends of the building. The units were standardized at 36” belt width to simplify spare parts inventory. Design of the units included provision for future upgrade, from 275 t/h to 524 t/h, merely by increasing the belt speed. By operating at the lower speed until the upgrade was required the Sandwich conveyor’s optimal energy efficiency is preserved.

The success of Snap Lake then led to the incorporation of DSI Sandwich conveyors with confidence into the Victor Project in Northeastern Ontario. The Victor Project, Ontario’s first diamond mine, had three DSI Sandwich conveyors in operation. Simplification of inventory was further exercised at the Victor Project with all units at 42” belt width. However, tonnage requirements for these units varied from a low of 185 tph at unit 11 to a high of 422 tph at unit 12. For prolonged equipment life and energy conservation, unit 11 was run at a slower speed than the other units.

It was the only diamond mine in the Northwest Territories that certified its environmental management systems to the high international standard, ISO 14001  through advanced exploration, construction and pre-operation.

DSI Sandwich conveyors in Northern Ontario for the Victor project have variable speed drives to slow down belts when needed to facilitate the plants need for energy conservation.

The Victor mine also won its share of awards.  In 2009, International Mine of the year from Mining Magazine, 2010 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Large Mine of the Year and four straight John T. Ryan Awards for mine safety (nationally in 2015 and 2016, regionally in 2017 and 2018).

Dos Santos International was proud to assist in the environmentally conscious mission of this project. Dos Santos International has been at the forefront of a technology not only versatile and unique in itself, but useful in creating an environmentally friendly, cost efficient means of showing the world the sparkling beauty this Earth of ours beholds.  

Dos Santos International is the world’s foremost authority on high angle conveyor applications and design of sandwich belt high angle conveyors, with the inventor of the helm of the company, Mr. Joseph A. Dos Santos.