Editorial Feature

Mining for Diamonds

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Even with technological advances and engineering tools, diamond mining still entails both art and science. From the ground to that shiny bling on one's finger, it's a long journey. Let's take a peek at some of the ways rough diamonds are extracted from the ground.

How to Mine for Diamonds

Diamond pipe mining is used when the primary sources of pipe deposits are found. Once the pipes and presence of diamonds are discovered, shanks are inserted into the earth at ore-bearing pipes and a large amount of soil are extracted.

The 'raw rack' and soil are then transported to plants where the ore is processed, and the rough diamonds are extracted. It could take a few hundred tons of ore to produce one carat of gem quality rough diamonds.

Another mining method for diamonds is alluvial mining. Alluvial mining is performed in secondary deposit areas, such as the ocean and riverbanks. It involves the construction of walls and diversion of the water. Once the water is prevented from flowing into the secondary mining deposit area, bulldozers dig up the ground.

Typically, kimberlite ore can be found 15 meters deep. When the diamond-rich depth is reached, raw deposits are extracted and taken to special screening plants for further processing.

Lastly, artisan mining of diamonds is basically the same method that gold diggers use, which screens and strains mud. Due to the low-tech equipment used in this mining process, it takes a lot of time and is manually labor-intensive.

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Locations of Diamond Mines

Russia is home to some of the biggest diamond mines. Located in the Yakutia Republic of Russia, Jubilee is the largest diamond mine on the globe. It's estimated to contain more than 150 million carats of recoverable diamonds. The 'Mir diamond' mine is also located in the Yakutia region of Russia. It's estimated to contain more than 140 million carats of diamond reserves.

Nestled in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Argyle diamond mine is expected to produce 20 million carats of diamonds a year at peak production. That figure will make it the largest diamond producing mine in the world.

In South Africa, the Venetia diamond mine has open pit reserves of about 30 million carats of diamonds and underground diamond reserves with 70 million carats of diamonds. These are just four of the top 10 largest diamond mines on the planet.

Further Reading

How Diamonds are Mined from the Earth

The Worlds Top 10 Biggest Diamond Mines

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Kris Walker

Written by

Kris Walker

Kris has a BA(hons) in Media & Performance from the University of Salford. Aside from overseeing the editorial and video teams, Kris can be found in far flung corners of the world capturing the story behind the science on behalf of our clients. Outside of work, Kris is finally seeing a return on 25 years of hurt supporting Manchester City.


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