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Which country ranks first in the world in diamond mining?

Diamond is one of the most expensive and rare gems on the planet. In this article we tell you where diamonds are mined in the world and in Russia.

Types of deposits

  • In kimberlite pipes;
  • In lamproite tubes;
  • Placer fields.

A kimberlite pipe is a giant tube of explosion propagation during an ancient volcanic eruption. It remains where magma breaks into the earth’s crust. The tube has a vertical shape, expanding towards the surface and narrowing in the deep layers. Geological bodies of this type were first discovered in the vicinity of the African city of Kimberley in the 1500th century. The name of the pipes is associated with this find. More than 10 kimberlite pipes are known, and only XNUMX% of them contain diamonds. This type of deposit, however, is the most common.

Lamproites are alkaline igneous rocks that were formed as a result of melting of the lithospheric mantle at a depth of more than 150 km. A total of 24 areas with lamproites with a total volume of about 100 cubic kilometers were discovered. The oldest deposit was formed 1,4 billion years ago, the youngest – 56 thousand years ago. Many of the deposits, such as the Argyle lamproite pipe in western Australia, are diamond-bearing.

Kimberlite and lamproite pipes are primary deposits, that is, preserved in the place of their formation. When such deposits are subjected to prolonged exposure to precipitation, streams and wind, they can erode. As a result, placer fields appear, where diamonds are also mined.

Atypical deposits appear in places where meteorites fall. Mining can be carried out in them, but the mined stones are too small and are not used for jewelry purposes.

How are diamonds mined?

The work of mining precious stones consists of five stages:

  1. Geological exploration work. Their goal is to discover a deposit in which it is advisable to mine diamonds. When searching, a geologist focuses on many factors, including the presence of igneous rocks and analysis of their composition.
  2. Preparation. Before development, preparatory measures are carried out – a residential area is arranged, equipment is delivered.
  3. Mining works. They can be open (quarry) or underground (mine), depending on the depth of the gems and the terrain. Often, mining begins with open-pit mining and then moves underground.
  4. Ore beneficiation. All ore that is mined in a quarry or mine is delivered to the mining and processing plant. Using various methods, precious stones are extracted from the rock.
  5. Sorting and evaluation. At the sorting center, the mined crystals are assessed in accordance with international jewelry standards. Diamonds that meet strict criteria are divided into size and weight groups and sent to cutters. Samples that are not suitable for jewelry purposes are used in industry, medicine, science and other fields.

Where in the world are diamonds mined?

Until the end of the 10th century, India was the world’s largest supplier of diamonds. Most of the gems were found in the east of the Deccan Plateau, but by the XNUMXth century the huge deposits were practically depleted. Today, India is not even among the top XNUMX largest diamond miners. Let’s talk about modern market leaders.

Africa

The African continent ranks first in the world in diamond production. It is here that the largest diamond mining quarry is located – Jwaneng in the south of Botswana. On its territory there are kimberlite pipes that are mined using open pit mining.

The largest suppliers of precious stones in Africa are Congo, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe. There are also large quarries and mines in other African countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Lesotho, and Togo.

The world’s largest gem-type diamond was found in South Africa in 1905. Cullinan, the “Star of Africa”, weighed 3106,75 carats. Soon after the discovery, the stone was divided into 9 parts, each of which was turned into a diamond. The largest of these diamonds (the Great Star of Africa) weighs 530,2 carats and is kept in the Tower of London.

On average, Africa produces about 90 billion carats of diamonds per year. Of this, approximately 35 million carats come from Botswana.

Russia

In the ranking of countries, Russia is the world leader in diamond mining. We owe this achievement to Yakutia, which has 47 deposits. Among them are “Yubileinoe”, “Udachnoe” and “Mir”, which are among the five largest on the planet.

In second place in Russia is the Arkhangelsk region, where there are kimberlite pipes and placer diamond fields. In third place is Primorsky Krai. The crystals mined there are of very high quality.

Mining is also carried out in other regions of Russia – Krasnoyarsk Territory, Irkutsk Region, Komi Republic, Murmansk Region, Perm Territory, and the Republic of Karelia.

In 2023, production in Russia amounted to 41,9 million carats.

Australia

Diamond deposits were discovered here relatively recently – in 1979. At the turn of the XNUMXth–XNUMXst centuries, the country was one of the world’s main suppliers. The bulk of the crystals are mined from lamproites, but kimberlite pipes are also being developed in Australia.

The Australian Argyle mine is famous for its pink diamonds – very rare and valuable stones.

The average annual production in Australia is 35 million carats.

Canada

In 2001, Canada began to develop the large Diavik quarry, which consists of four kimberlite pipes. In 2012, work was moved to the mines. About 8 million carats are mined annually.

What happens to the deposits

The deposits that are being developed today were formed millions and billions of years ago. They contain significant deposits of precious stones, but their supply will soon dry up.

Even if geologists are able to find new deposits, natural diamonds are unlikely to fully satisfy the growing market demand. After all, diamond crystals are in demand not only among jewelers. The highest hardness, thermal conductivity, chemical inertness and other unique properties of diamonds make them irreplaceable in many fields. For example, diamond coating protects fragile structures of watches, optical instruments and medical equipment, and increases the wear resistance of cutting elements.

Since the end of the 1970th century, scientists have been trying to synthesize diamond in the laboratory, and in XNUMX the attempts were crowned with success – the first grown gem-quality crystal was presented to the public. During the synthesis process, it was possible to recreate the process of gemstone formation in nature – high pressure and high temperature.

Grown diamonds are not imitation, but natural stone. It differs from natural only in origin, otherwise the materials are identical. In jewelry, synthesized diamonds can even shine brighter than natural ones, as they are of higher purity. After all, in nature it is difficult to avoid impurities and other defects, but in laboratory conditions scientists completely control the synthesis process.

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Where are diamonds mined?

Where are diamonds mined Diamond is one of the most expensive and rare gems on the planet. In this article we tell you where diamonds are mined in the world and in Russia. Types of deposits For a diamond to form in the bowels of the Earth, exposure to high temperature is necessary.

ALROSA is the leader in production volumes, but based on the total cost of mined rough diamonds, De Beers is considered the leader.

  • Until recently, Australia was among the leaders, but its mines with rare pink crystals have been depleted.
  • South Africa is the only state on the “Dark Continent” that is not a third world country. About 9,6 million carats of diamonds are mined here every year.
  • Angola with the Fucauma field. Mines 8,7 million carats of diamonds per year.
  • Canada is a leader in terms of import and export volumes. The main deposit is Ekati. The annual volume of mined diamonds is 16,2 million carats.
  • Botswana is the leader in the number of diamond mines. The country produces 24,5 million carats per year.
  • Russia – 41,9 million carats, the leader in diamond production volumes.

Despite the UN initiative and the organization of the Kimberlite Process, the supply of smuggled diamonds from African countries still continues. Funds from the sale of stones go to support military conflicts in the region.

In Russia, diamond mining is under state control. To start mining gems, you need to obtain a special license. Diamonds are a source of income for the treasury, a guarantor of financial independence. Our country has all the prerequisites to switch to exporting already cut stones, which would increase income.

Large diamond deposits

99% of diamonds mined in Russia are obtained from deposits in Yakutia. Previously, stones were found in the Urals – on the banks of streams and rivers, as well as during washing of gold ore. However, the placers were practically not given the opportunity to begin industrial development.

Depending on the geological processes involved in the removal of diamond ore to the upper layers, deposits are divided into impact, bedrock and placer deposits.

Impact diamonds appear on the surface as a result of a meteorite falling. Such deposits are not always suitable for industrial production, but they are of significant interest to scientists.

Primary deposits are those that formed where magma reaches the surface. Most often these are deposits in areas with seismic activity and active or dormant volcanoes. Kimberlite and lamproite pipes are vertically oriented geological bodies that expand due to the explosion of rock at the outlet. The predominant volume of production is carried out in kimberlite deposits. Most of the jewelry stones are mined from them.

A placer deposit is formed as a result of erosive processes in a diamond-bearing pipe. Precipitation washes away the rock, forming placer fields of diamonds, pebbles and rubble.

Placer diamond deposits are divided into 4 types.

  • Coastal-marine – when volcanic rock crumbles on the coast.
  • Colluvial – formed on slopes.
  • Alluvial – formed in river valleys.
  • Eluvial – placers in the upper layer of the earth.

For thousands of years, placers have been the subject of industrial diamond mining. It was even believed that diamonds were formed in rivers.

The largest diamond deposits are recognized in descending order of rating:

  • Jwaneng (Botswana);
  • Yubileiny (Russia, Yakutia);
  • Udachnoye (Russia, Yakutia);
  • World (Russia, Yakutia);
  • Argyll (Australia);
  • Catoca (Angola);
  • Venice (South Africa);
  • Deposit named after V.P. Grib (Russia, Arkhangelsk region);
  • Orapa (Botswana).

Also considered to be large deposits are the Russian Botuobinskoye, named after M. Lomonosov; Crater of Diamonds State Park in the USA; Indian mines of Panna, Brazilian Minas Gerais.

History of the discovery of diamonds

The ancient Indians were the first to discover diamonds. For several thousand years they were the only ones who mined this gem. It was only in the 2nd century that stones began to be exported from India to China. In the 6th century, diamond placers were discovered on the island of Kalimantan. In the 3rd century BC, diamonds were brought to Europe with Alexander the Great.

  • Diamond ores were discovered in Brazil in 1725.
  • The first diamonds were discovered on the territory of the Russian Empire in 1829.
  • The South African diamond deposit was discovered in 1868.

Today, diamonds are also mined in Botswana, Zaire, Namibia, Canada, and Angola.

Primary diamond deposits in Yakutia were discovered only in the mid-1950s. The discovery of the Zarnitsa, Mir and Udachnaya kimberlite pipes marked the beginning of industrial diamond mining in the USSR. The highest quality diamonds in Russia today are mined in the Ural diamond-bearing province.

Origin of diamonds

There are several theories explaining the origin of the strongest minerals. All of them are divided into 2 groups – cosmic and terrestrial.

When ancient Greek philosophers called diamonds fragments of fallen stars, they were somewhat right. Some of the diamonds found on our planet appeared here through meteorites. After the fall of a celestial body, diamond placers are discovered in the craters. Among scientists, they are considering versions that put forward the following hypotheses:

  • a meteorite is a fragment of a larger celestial body, which contained diamond ore in its rock;
  • the second hypothesis is that the carbon in the meteorite, when colliding with other meteorites, or when passing through the earth’s atmosphere and falling, is subjected to high pressure and temperature, due to which the molecular lattice crystallizes into a diamond one.

Such diamonds are called shock or impact diamonds. The probability of finding a stone with jewelry value in this case is almost impossible, the grain diameter is too small.

Terrestrial theories of the origin of diamonds are based on the effect of temperature and pressure formed by magma on carbon. The so-called kimberlite pipes, which are the cradle of diamonds, are nothing more than a place where magma comes to the surface.

Diamond mining methods

Today, natural diamonds are mined mainly in two ways – quarry and mine. The first is suitable for mining ore at shallow depths. The second is for the development of diamond ore at depth.

Placers are diamonds found on the surface. When such a place is discovered, workers wash the rock using large sieves.

Career way

Open view of diamond ore mining. It is considered the simplest and cheapest. The ore is removed to the surface of the quarry using loaders and machines and sent to the processing plant.

To extract the ore, a well is drilled through the installation. An explosive substance is placed in it. It is important for pyrotechnicians to correctly calculate the force and direction of the explosion, since diamonds can split if exposed to excessive force, and at high temperatures turn into graphite.

The quarry method has its limitations – its depth reaches only 600 meters. Heavy equipment with a lifting capacity of up to 136 tons is used. Moving along the serpentine funnel, cars cover up to 10 km.

The open method also puts forward certain requirements for technology when working in winter. For example, in Yakutia the temperature can reach -60 o C, the equipment must work uninterruptedly. Excavators, loaders and dump trucks of the BelAZ, Cat, Komatsu brands work in diamond quarries.

Mine method

Closed type of vein development. The kimberlite pipe reaches a depth of 1,5 km. After the upper layers have been completely worked out through the quarry, it is time to build a mine.

It is necessary to invest about 3-4 billion dollars to prepare the mine and put it into operation. Experts believe that subsequent maintenance of the facility is already cheaper. Even with such investments, diamond mining remains economically viable.

Explosives are rarely used in the mine. The ore is mainly crushed using a shearer. The machine has special cutters that destroy kimberlite rock. Ore is also delivered to the surface by special machines – loaders fill trolleys that run to the surface.

The most expensive process in this case is ensuring safety for workers and equipment, creating conditions suitable for efficient ore mining.

Diamond ore extracted from a quarry or mine is brought to a factory where it is washed. This uses the ability of diamonds to absorb fat. The washing surface is covered with a layer of fat and the diamonds are glued, and the remaining rock is washed away by supplying water.

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