Rare and valuable minerals

Which city in Russia has the most diamonds?

Russia is considered the world leader in diamond mining and export. Besides us, the top three are Botswana and South Africa. The largest kimberlite pipes were discovered on the territory of these countries, which marked the beginning of the industrial mining of adamants. In our country, large deposits are located mainly in Yakutia; there are diamond deposits in Siberia.

History of diamond mining in Russia

  • The first diamond crystal discovered on the territory of the Russian Empire dates back to July 4, 1829.
  • The diamond, first recovered from Siberian lands, dates back to November 1897.
  • The third stone was discovered in Siberia only 51 years later, in 1948.

The catalyst for the active development of the industry and the start of exploration work was the Cold War. If previously the USSR purchased rough diamonds from Great Britain, which was developing mines in African colonies, then with the onset of a crisis in diplomatic relations, the British stopped selling precious stones to our country. There is a need to look for our own resources.

The geological structure of the subsoil in the territory of Yakutia turned out to be similar to the South African territories. The search began on the Chona and Vilyui rivers.

  • On August 7, 1949, the first diamond was found on the Sokolinaya sand spit, and a diamond placer was also discovered here.
  • In the period 1950-1953, several more placers were found.
  • The first Zarnitsa kimberlite pipe, discovered in August 1954, was insufficient for industrial scale development.
  • On June 13, 1955, a kimberlite pipe was discovered, which later became known as “Mir”. The weight of diamonds in the mine was 5 carats, or 1 gram. This meant serious potential for industrial development.

Diamond mining process

Placers are developed using butar scrubbers, and less commonly, pebble mills. This is due to the fact that the components are in a free state. At the same time, it is important to process the ore carefully so as not to damage the precious crystals. The average content in developed placers is usually not lower than 0,1 carat/m3.

Kimberlite pipes are primary deposits. Pillars or cones go deep into the depths. The diameter of the tubes varies from 40 to 60 meters. The tube can stretch up to a kilometer deep.

First, a kimberlite pipe is mined using an open pit method. The soil is crushed, loaded into heavy dump trucks and sent for processing. In permafrost areas, blasting is used to break through to diamond-enriched rock and be able to load it in and out of the quarry.

Water and oil may seep into the bottom of the quarry; pumping must be carried out in a timely manner so that the loading equipment can continue to operate. The Mirny quarry was openly mined to a level of 525 meters, and the serpentine along which heavy dump trucks transported rock stretched for 8 kilometers.

Below the 600-meter mark, diamond pipes are not mined by open-pit mining. They are preserved and then the feasibility of constructing a mine is decided.

Diamond mining in mines is of a closed type. This is a complex technical object with life support systems that allows people to stay at great depths for a long time. The tunnel goes to a depth of 500–1000 meters, industrial infrastructure is built in it – elevators, ventilation and water supply systems, and highways are provided for transport, trolleys transporting ore, bulldozers and drilling machines.

The largest diamond deposits in Russia

  • “Yubileiny” is an open-pit mine, with a projected development depth of up to 720 meters; the mark of 320 meters has now been reached. A preliminary estimate of the quarry’s potential is 153 carats.
  • “Udachny” – the mine’s reserve potential is estimated at 152 carats.
  • “Mir” is also developed using the shaft method. 141 carats – total reserves of the quarry according to expert estimates.
  • Botoubinskaya: production forecast – 71 carats. The kimberlite pipe has been developed recently, but has industrial potential for several decades.

The first diamond in the Russian Federation

A teenage serf, washing ore in the Adolfovsky log of the Krostovozdvizhensky gold mines, discovered a crystal that brought him freedom. 192 years have passed since the discovery of the first diamond in the history of the Russian Empire.

A diamond weighing 342,5 carats, named “XXVI Congress of the CPSU,” became the first crystal by weight in the history of the USSR diamond industry. He was found at the Mir mine.

In 2012, a 79,9-carat stone was found there, which became the largest in the history of modern Russian diamond mining. Diamond is called “President”.

Siberian diamonds

On geological maps, the maximum number of kimberlite pipes is noted on the territory of the Republic of Sakha. There are also large deposits in the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions. Moreover, the potential of diamonds in Yakutia is estimated at more than 500 million carats, and in the Arkhangelsk region, which ranks 2nd in density, 200-500 million carats. There are also diamond deposits near Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, in the Komi Republic and in Karelia, Perm Territory.

Yakutalmaz

In 1957, in order to successfully develop mining operations for the extraction of rough diamonds, on the territory of the tent village “Mirny”, the Yakutalmaz trust was created. The organizers were faced with the most difficult conditions in the taiga, frosts down to -60 degrees, and the need to work in permafrost conditions in the absence of infrastructure.

  • 1961 – the Aikhal pipe was opened;
  • 1969 – work began on the International tube.

An underground nuclear explosion was used to open about 15 pipes between 1970 and 1980. In Mirny, during the same period, geologists opened the world’s only museum of kimberlites, where private collections of researchers were initially provided.

ALROSA

The joint stock company ALROSA (Almazy Rossii-Sakha) has been the legal successor of the Yakutalmaz trust since 1992. A company with a state controlling stake and a monopoly on the exploration, production and processing of diamonds in the Russian Federation.

The group includes mining and processing plants:

  • Udachninsky;
  • Mirninsky;
  • Aikhal;
  • Nyurbinsky.

Plus, 2 subsidiary mining and processing plants – Almazy Anabara and Arkhangelsk Severalmaz.

ALROSA extracts 98% of all diamond reserves in Russia. The group of companies is also active in the Republic of Angola, not limited to representative offices in Russia. ALROSA owns about 33% of the shares of Africa’s largest diamond producer. The cooperation was at the highest level. The company has its representative offices in all strategically important distribution centers for diamond products around the world.

21.10 // At the beginning of the 80th century, 90% of the world diamond market belonged to the international corporation De Beers, creator of the legendary slogan “Diamonds are forever.” But the corporation could not maintain its leadership: today its place on the pedestal is occupied by the Russian company ALROSA. It accounts for about 27% of Russian and 2019% of world diamond production. In Russia, the world’s largest producer of diamonds in carats mines in two regions – the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Arkhangelsk region. In 38, ALROSA produced over 5 million carats – the lion’s share of Russian diamonds. Another 1162,5 million carats are produced by AGD Diamonds, which is developing one of the Arkhangelsk deposits. And Russia’s total resource reserves, according to JORC, amount to 22 million carats – XNUMX% of the world’s.

About half of Russia’s alluvial diamonds are mined in the Yakut Arctic. In the Anabarsky ulus, which belongs to the Arctic zone of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), more than 64% of alluvial diamond deposits in Russia that have been explored and prepared for industrial development are concentrated. Seasonal diamond mining and geological exploration are carried out in two more Arctic regions of the republic – Bulunsky and Oleneksky uluses.

To develop the northern deposits of Yakutia, a subsidiary of the ALROSA group, OJSC Almazy Anabara, was created in 1998. It is the largest alluvial mining company in the world. It accounts for about 5% of ALROSA’s diamonds. In 2018, the company set a record by producing the most diamonds in its entire history – 5,4 million carats.

Mining is carried out by open-pit mining at seven placers – Morgogor, Istok, Kholomolokh, Ebelyakh, Gusinoye, Ruchei 41 and Kurung-Yuryakh. The most interesting stones are brought by Ebelyakh on the right tributary of the Anabar River. Only one out of 10 thousand diamonds mined in the world has its own color, and here such finds are made much more often. Thus, in the summer of 2017, in just one month, three unique fancy diamonds were mined at Ebelyakh – bright yellow, pink and purple-pink.

The purest, rare pink diamond weighing 27,85 carats became the largest pink stone found in Russia and was recognized as the best find of the year according to The National Jeweler. After all, pink diamonds are incredibly rare, with only one percent of them weighing more than 10 carats. The Yakut find was used to create the “Ghost of the Rose” diamond, weighing 14,83 carats, one of the largest pink diamonds in the world. ALROSA expects to sell it in November 2020 at Sotheby’s auction for $60-65 million. However, experts believe that the transaction amount may be much higher, and then the diamond from Yakutia will become one of the most expensive in history.

In August 2020, the largest colored diamond in the entire history of Russian diamond mining was mined at Ebelyakh. The weight of the rich yellow-brown stone was a record 236 carats.

The second Russian region in which ALROSA operates is the Arkhangelsk region. The deposits off the coast of the White Sea are the only place in all of Europe where diamond mining is carried out. A century ago, no one even imagined that there could be kimberlite pipes on the European continent. Geologists were sure that there was only one diamond-bearing province on Russian territory – Yakutia. The first suspicions that this was not the case arose in the 1930s, when kimberlite, a diamond-bearing rock, was found during the construction of defense enterprises in Severodvinsk. But targeted searches began only in the 1980s, and soon diamonds were found in such quantities that it became clear that industrial development had to begin.

As it turned out, in the Arctic part of Pomorie there are two largest industrial diamond deposits in Europe – named after M. Lomonosov in the Primorsky region and named after V. Grib in the Mezensky region. These two deposits, like all other known kimberlite pipes in the region – and there are about 70 of them – belong to the Arkhangelsk diamondiferous province. Its total diamond reserves account for 21,4% of the total Russian reserves.

The first deposit to be discovered was named after a native of Pomerania, Mikhail Lomonosov. It consists of 6 kimberlite pipes with total resources of more than 115 million carats of rough diamonds. The pipes stretched out in a chain almost 10 km long off the coast of the White Sea, a hundred km from Arkhangelsk.

In September 2003, stripping work began on the Arkhangelskaya kimberlite pipe. And industrial diamond mining began in June 2005 with the commissioning of the first stage of the Lomonosov Mining and Processing Plant. Today, the Severalmaz company, which is part of the ALROSA group, produces about 4,2 million carats of diamonds per year from the deposit.

It is planned to mine diamonds at the Lomonosov deposit at least until 2043. The reserves in the Karpinsky-1 and Arkhangelsk pipes will last until 2035. Then the work will move 5-6 km to the north, where the pipes named after. Lomonosov and Pionerskaya.

Mining is carried out in an open way, and the dimensions of two huge quarries are already measured in hundreds of meters. Thus, the diameter of the quarry at the Arkhangelskaya pipe exceeded a kilometer, and the depth – 200 meters. After all, to extract 1 carat of diamonds, you have to process about a ton of kimberlite. Huge excavators load ore onto dump trucks, each carrying one hundred tons at a time. And per hour, 450 tons of ore enter the processing plant. The plant annually processes more than 4 million tons of diamond-containing ore and extracts about 2 kg of diamonds per day. The share of Lomonosovsky GOK in the total diamond production of the Alrosa group is about 7%.

30 km from the Lomonosov deposit there is a deposit named after. V. Grib. It was discovered later, in 1996, and was named in honor of Vladimir Grib, the former chief geologist of Arkhangelskgeoldobycha OJSC. This field ranks fourth in terms of reserves in Russia and seventh in the world. There is only one kimberlite pipe, but its approximate reserves are estimated at 100 million carats. Of these, 58,4 million carats are expected to be mined by open pit mining, and the rest by underground mining. Mining is carried out by the company AGD Diamonds, the successor of JSC Arkhangelskgeoldobycha.

Unique diamonds are also often found among Arkhangelsk diamonds. The first registered diamond was extracted on June 26, 2009 from the ore of the Arkhangelskaya pipe. The stone weighing 30,61 carats was named “425th anniversary of Arkhangelsk”, since it was mined on the eve of the anniversary of the capital of Pomorie. Since then, the number of personalized stones has grown into hundreds. In July 2019, at the field named after. V. Grib found a diamond weighing 222,09 carats. It became the largest in the history of diamond mining in the region and the largest diamond found in Europe.

After the pipes are scooped to the bottom, the pumps of the water-reducing wells will be turned off and lakes 300-500 meters deep with the purest water will appear in place of the giant quarries. And the tailings ponds, which collect enrichment waste – mainly clay and sand – will be overgrown with forests. There will be no traces of the fact that the first European diamonds were once mined here.

Infrastructure Air crossing

In Chukotka, a resident of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation plans to build a rope aerobridge

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