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Where are the best diamonds in the world mined?

Diamond is the most valuable mineral in the world, the extraction of which is one of the branches of the mining industry. For millions of years they lie in the bowels of the earth until huge machines, explosives and people disturb its tranquility. Diamond mining is a very labor-intensive process, and the equipment involved in this process is amazing in its carrying capacity and power. But even ordinary amateur prospectors can find gems. Where you need to go for this, how industrial mining of jewelry occurs and what nuances are hidden in this matter will be described in this article.

History of the discovery of diamonds

The first country where precious stones were found was India. For 2 years it held the status of the only country where it was possible to mine diamonds. They were attributed magical properties and used for occult rituals. There is evidence that they tried to resurrect the dead with the help of these stones, but not a single attempt was successful. At that time they did not yet know how to process jewelry. The high density defied any instruments. The surface coating was removed from the stones, due to which they began to sparkle, but the emergence of a noble cut was still very far away. They looked like large sugar crystals layered on top of each other. It was only in 1454 that Louis de Bernel began working with diamonds, by order of Duke Charles the Bold. He theorized that if he placed a huge sparkling stone on his armor, the reflected rays of the sun would blind his enemies, which would bring him victory in wars. In Europe, stones were used only as a weapon of military strategy, to strengthen armor. They began to be used by Agnes Sorel as decorations for noble officials. It is not surprising that the person who introduced wearing diamonds into fashion was a woman. The very first mentions of diamonds in Russia date back to 1073. They were used as jewelry only from the 17th century, to decorate buttons and cufflinks. Jewelry became widespread during the reign of Elizabeth II, thanks to whom a new, more noble name for the stone appeared – diamond. Society liked it so much that the word “diamond” gradually went out of use. The first development of diamond mines in Russia began in the Northern Urals in 1829. This was a breakthrough for the Russian economy. Large-scale financing of this industry began, which led to the discovery of one of the largest deposits of precious stones in the world in Yakutia. Since that time, enterprises have begun to be built in the country for the extraction, processing and cutting of precious stones.

The largest stone in Eurasia was found in 1980 and was 324 carats. It was discovered in the Mir kimberlite pipe, which at that time was one of the most valuable and richest.

Origin of diamonds

There is evidence that diamonds are formed in meteorites. When they collide with the ground, the hot stones are subjected to enormous pressure, resulting in the formation of a diamond. Scientists were prompted to this idea by a discovery during the study of a fallen meteorite, but the stones that were in its composition turned out to be of poor quality. The enormous speed that the falling celestial body develops leads to the fact that the diamonds acquire a needle-like shape. Only a very small part of diamonds are of cosmic origin. Most of them form in kimberlite, an igneous rock. Located at great depths underground, carbon compounds are subjected to enormous pressure and temperature, which completely changes their crystalline structure. Hot magma that bursts to the surface and contributes to the formation of jewelry. As a result of this process, precious stones are formed at a depth of more than a kilometer. Due to seismic activity and volcanic eruptions, the diamond formation can be destroyed, and diamonds erupt to the surface with magma. This leads to the formation of a kimberlite pipe, which is a deposit of precious stones. In cross-section, it looks like a carrot, but no one has yet reached its end. Perhaps there are huge deposits of jewelry hidden there. Now scientists are trying to break through the thickness of the rocks and high temperatures to study this theory. If a volcanic eruption occurs under water, it grinds down the igneous rock and washes the stones out. They can be transported to the surface by waves. They can also be found in mountain rivers, where a similar process occurs, but the rock there is already being eroded. Many prospectors sifted through river and sea sand to get at least a few stones. Some attempts were even crowned with considerable success, which provoked real diamond fever.

There are bodies in space that consist entirely of solid diamond. The most famous and closest to our solar system is the White Dwarf or Star Lucy. Its diameter is more than 4 thousand kilometers, and its weight exceeds several million tons of carats.

Main methods of diamond mining

Initially, you need to note the manual method. It is now used by amateur prospectors who search for treasures superficially. In places where there are small deposits, diamond mining sites can be set up for tourists. For example, this is practiced in Arkansas. The search for diamonds is carried out like this: the covering layer of earth is removed to a depth of about 50 meters. Then the land is regularly plowed. Treasure hunters use shovels, buckets and sieves as tools. The earth is collected in a sieve, all the dirt needs to be washed off so that only large particles remain. The remainder is carefully examined, because the stone may be covered with a layer of plaque or dirt. Along with this, tourists can find a large number of quartzites, but they have no value. The process is quite complex and drawn-out, but the prospectors are fueled by the dream of finding a diamond among the dirt and debris. Previously, this method of diamond mining was very common in rivers that were located near volcanoes or kimberlite pipes. In Russia, in the Urals, there is a semi-precious valley, where you can also find pebbles even under your feet. Now it is common in India, Africa, Bolivia, but is more often used by illegal immigrants who sell jewelry on the black market.

Career way

Most diamond deposits look like a descending cone, so one of the most effective ways to obtain it is by quarrying. The cost of open-pit diamond mining is lower than closed-pit mining. The main machines used are draglines, Cats, Belaz. Before the start of field development, prospecting work is carried out to find out which layer of earth will be effectively removed. Then the demolitions take over. They drill holes in the ground and plant explosives with detonators. After their work is completed, all equipment is removed from the blast radius. After detonation, thousands of pieces of shrapnel fly in different directions, so safety is maintained at the highest level. After the explosion, draglines enter the battle. These are huge crane excavators that collect kimberlite rock and load it onto the Cat, one of the most powerful dump trucks of our time. Maintenance of these machines is very important because they often operate in very harsh conditions.

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Join our team: we create fintech services for 28 million clients and are 5 years ahead of the market. We work for results and do more than is expected of us. Low temperatures are especially dangerous for equipment. When exposed to cold, metal can crack with a small impact. Moving machine parts are constantly lubricated to reduce friction, because without this they can weld together, which leads to loss of equipment. The depth of a kimberlite pipe can reach 2 km, but the quarry method allows it to be excavated only to 600 meters. After loading the rock onto dump trucks, it is transported to production, where it is crushed, washed and screened. Sometimes, X-rays are used to select raw materials in order to initially remove empty stones. The rest is loaded onto the conveyor of a vibrating machine, where, through vibrations, the rock is destroyed and spills through a fine sieve. Diamond ore is selected and sorted. Even the smallest stone fragments are selected. They are often used to produce abrasive powder. For this purpose, the hydrophobic properties of diamonds are used. The powder, which contains rock interspersed with valuable stones, is immersed in water with fuel oil, to which small pebbles stick and float to the surface. Larger and purer stones are assessed by jewelers, where their future fate is determined. Deposits are considered rich if 2 carats of diamonds were discovered there per ton of kimberlite. On average, 1-1,5 carats are most often obtained. In one day, one quarry can process up to 40 – 50 thousand cubic tons of raw materials, which will be developed in the future. The waste rock is separated from the mined diamonds at the final stage of production by hand. This is where the initial assessment of their quality is carried out.

Mine method

The underground method is now more experimental than industrial. They are doing it in Canada, at the E-Kati deposit. There, in the Panda kimberlite pipe, which had already been mined, geologists developed a new strategy. To get to the new deposits of precious stones, an inclined shaft was made. Thanks to her, it became possible to lay conveyor equipment to lift the rock. Similar equipment is used in other mines where quarrying has already been completed. This is a very labor-intensive process that requires a lot of resources and investment, but the result is worth it. Being under greater pressure, the quality of the stones increases, they are cleaner, and, as a result, more expensive.

Only 20% of the diamonds mined worldwide are used for jewelry purposes. 80% of all raw materials are sent for technical needs. For jewelry, the purest stones are selected, which can be sold for a lot of money, and their quantity is much less than that of fragments.

Diamond deposits in Russia

  • World;
  • Zarnitsa;
  • Successful;
  • International
  • Aikhal;
  • Anniversary.

One of the first pipes found in Russia, Mir, was closed back in 2001, and now diamond production is carried out here only using the underground method. The same fate befell the International mine. According to geologists, the size of the deposit will allow uninterrupted diamond mining for another 25 years.

Diamond deposits were also found in the Urals and the Arkhangelsk region. Over the past 10 years, there has not been a single major discovery of deposits of precious stones in Russia, therefore, after the depletion of quarries, there is a constant search for new layers of kimberlite. The largest deposit in Arkhangelsk is named after the great scientist Lomonosov. Its potential is estimated at $14,3 billion.

Leading countries in gemstone production

Initially, people believed that diamond deposits could only be found in hot countries. No one could even imagine that cold Canada and Russia would become leaders in gemstone mining. The mines of India, the country that once dictated the rules of the world of jewelry, are now depleted and it has lost its edge. The highest quality stones are produced in Australia, Yakutia, and Canada.

Top leaders in diamond mining in the world:

Diamond mining in the world is very important for the economy. In addition, they are also used for technical needs. Diamonds adorn the drills used to drill into the toughest materials on earth. They are part of abrasive substances that are used for polishing and grinding surfaces. Few people know, but diamond chips can even be seen in tires. Their addition increases surface traction, allowing the vehicle to move safely on ice.

But diamonds are obtained not only naturally, but also synthetically. In the capsules, the carbon is subjected to the enormous pressure and temperatures that occurred during the magma eruption. Artificial stones are much cheaper than natural ones. The cost depends on the cost of production, rarity, beauty and quality.

In terms of hardness, it has already been possible to create a diamond similar to a kimberlite diamond, but its beauty is slightly inferior to natural ones. However, scientists have also created a mineral that even an experienced jeweler cannot distinguish. It can be considered the twin brother of natural diamond, because during its creation the conditions that turned black graphite into a jewel over millions of years were recreated. Only time has been significantly accelerated, thanks to many catalysts. Almost all synthetic stones are used only for technical purposes.

Among all the variety of minerals, diamond occupies a special position. This is due both to the characteristic physical properties and to the beauty of the diamonds obtained through further cutting of the mineral. Where can you find diamonds? According to information on world mining, deposits or diamond mines/sinkholes are found in many parts of the globe.

What is a diamond

Like graphite, the mineral is an allotrope of carbon. Under normal conditions it is stable. It is characterized by high hardness on the Mohs scale (10 out of 10). This is a kind of standard of hardness. It has high thermal conductivity (900-2300 W/m K) and is classified as a semiconductor. Physical characteristics reflect high elasticity and low compression ratio.

An important distinguishing property from a number of other minerals is luminescence. Under the influence of sunlight, ultraviolet light, and x-rays, a diamond begins to glow in different colors.

High transparency and refractive index (2,417-2,419) classify diamond as a precious stone. Thanks to its skillful cutting, the mineral is one of the most beautiful stones in the world. In nature, diamonds are found not only in white and yellow, but also in pink, brown and even black.

The cost of 1 carat of diamond (0,2 g) averages 1,5 million rubles.

Where do diamonds come from?

The process of formation of a priceless stone is laid deep in the bowels of the earth. What does a diamond come from? At a depth of 100-200 km, under high temperature and pressure, carbon is converted into diamond over a long period of time. Gradually, thanks to certain processes occurring in the earth’s crust, diamond deposits are forced to the surface. Such exit routes are called kimberlite pipes (after the name of the rock “kimberlite”). There are several thousand of these types of pipes on the planet, but mining diamonds in each of them is not always profitable. Therefore, only some of them are used for their intended purpose.

Extraction methods

Diamond mining can be roughly divided into two important stages – obtaining ore and processing it.

Mining of ore containing diamonds is carried out using open and closed methods. From an economic point of view, the first option is more profitable. There is a third, combined method. When, having started development using an open method, they switch to a closed method.

The justification for choosing the type of mining is influenced by a number of objective and subjective factors: the depth and expected volumes of mineral occurrence, climatic conditions, logistics, etc. In each specific case, the expected costs and the expected economic effect are calculated.

Open pit mining

This method involves removing the top layer of soil and then, using the directed explosion method, the crater spirals deeper into several hundred meters. The collapsed rock is loaded into huge dump trucks and delivered to processing plants. The extraction method is practically safe and does not require huge costs.

Closed mining

It is produced in the bowels of the earth by creating a system of tunnels – mines. In earlier time periods, diamonds had to be mined with a pickaxe. This profession was called “miner”, i.e. working in a mountain (mine). Hard, long hours of work in conditions of reduced visibility and increased danger have been the main route to diamond mining for many years.

Currently, mining machines extract and load rock into trolleys that transport it to the surface. Next, the rock containing diamonds is also sent to mining and processing plants. Closed mining allows the extraction of valuable minerals from deeper layers of rock, but is associated with high costs and certain dangers. Risk factors include: rock collapse, explosion hazard, lack of oxygen, etc. Therefore, the mine mining method is used in cases where open-pit mining is impossible.

Open-closed method

The need to combine previous mining options arises when open-pit mining is no longer possible, and significant volumes of the mineral lie at a sufficient depth.

Mining and processing plant

The incoming rock passes through a complex system of grinders and crushers. The large pieces are then washed with water, which makes the diamonds immediately visible. Small ones, for the same purpose, are exposed to special reagents.

To check the residual diamond content in the rock, additional X-ray luminescence separation is carried out. When X-rays hit a mineral, it begins to glow.

Production cannot do without monotonous manual labor. At the last stage, the remains of excess rock that is not related to minerals are manually discarded. The remaining diamonds are sorted.

Diamond deposits

Let’s look at which countries produce diamonds.

Russian mines

The first mineral was found in the Perm region (Krestovozdvizhensky mine) in 1829. Over the next 28 years, diamonds totaling 60 carats were mined in this region. The first Siberian diamond found (mine near Yeniseisk) dates back to 1879.

And in 1949, high-quality diamonds were found in the Vilyui River basin (Yakutia). Later, in the 1950s, the Zarnitsa kimberlite pipe was discovered in Yakutia. In 2012, diamonds were found on the border of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Yakutia (Poligai deposit). But, despite the expansion of mining boundaries, Ural diamonds remain the highest quality minerals.

According to the latest information, diamonds with a total weight of 30-40 million carats are mined in Russia per year.

Deposits abroad

The first information about diamonds found refers to the Deccan Plateau in India, but already at the end of the 19th century they were severely depleted. Currently, India is only an importer of the mineral.

In 1727, deposits were discovered in Brazil. Information dates back to 1867, according to which diamonds can be found in African countries – the famous “Cape Diamonds”.

Which countries currently mine diamonds? In addition to Russia, the top three include Botswana and Canada. In 2017, new deposits of valuable minerals were discovered in Canada in the northwest of the country.

Overall, the BRANCS countries (Botswana, Russia, Angola, Namibia, Canada and South Africa) oversee about 92% of all production. You can also additionally add Australia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the list.

The main importers of valuable raw materials: India, Belgium and the UAE.

Russia still maintains its leading position in both mining and importing of precious stones.

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