Diamond Mines are not what you typically think of as tourist attractions but these might catch your attention. Diamonds typically form in very hot and high pressure environments such as those found in volcanic vents which lie buried deep inside of today’s active volcanoes. Once the volcano has eroded away with the passage of time the actually vent is left as a fossilized remnant and the deposit is known as a Kimberlite. Kimberlites are famous for their concentration, albeit small, of diamonds. You might have expected diamond mines to go deep underground but most of them are open pit. The largest diamond mines are found in Russia, South Africa, Canada, Botswana and Angola. Here is a look at the world’s 15 largest diamond mines.
1. Udachny Diamond Mine, Russia
The Udachnaya pipe is a diamond deposit in the Daldyn-Alakit kimberlite field in Sakha Republic, Russia. It is an open-pit mine, and is located just outside the Arctic circle. As of 2010, Udachnaya pipe is controlled by Russian diamond company Alrosa, which planned to halt open-pit mining in favor of underground mining in 2010. The mine has estimated reserves of 225.8 million carats of diamonds and an annual production capacity of 10.4 million carats.
2. Mir Mine, Russia
The Mir mine, also called the Mirny mine, is a former open pit diamond mine, now inactive, located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia. The mine is 525 meters deep (4th in the World) and has a diameter of 1,200 m, and is the second largest excavated hole in the world, after Bingham Canyon Mine.
3. Argyle Diamond Mine, Australia
The Argyle Diamond Mine is a diamond mine located in the East Kimberley region in the remote north of Western Australia. Argyle is the largest diamond producer in the World by volume, although due to the low proportion of gem-quality diamonds it is set to close by 2020. It is the only known significant source of pink diamonds, producing over 90% of the world’s supply.
4. Catoca Diamond Mine, Angola
The Catoca diamond mine is the fourth largest diamond mine in the World, and is located in Angola. The mine is owned by a consortium of international mining interests, including Endiama (the state mining company of Angola), Alrosa of Russia, Odebrecht of Brazil, and the Diamond Finance CY BV Group. The mine is located on a kimberlite pipe.
5. Diavik Diamond Mine, Canada
The Diavik Diamond Mine is a diamond mine in the North Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It has become an important part of the regional economy, employing 700, grossing C$100 million in sales, and producing approximately 7.5 million carats of diamonds annually. Diavik Diamond Mine is an industrial complex and town in one, set in a remote, sub-Arctic landscape.
6. Venetia Diamond Mine, South Africa
The Venetia Diamond Mine is South Africa’s largest producer of diamonds. The open-pit mine is one of De Beers’ six remaining diamond mines in South Africa and the only major diamond mine to be developed in the country during the past 25 years. As such, the mine represents one of De Beers’ single biggest investments in South Africa.
7. Grib Diamond Mine, Russia
The Grib mine is one of the largest diamond mines in Russia and in the World. The mine is located in the north-western part of the country in the Arkhangelsk Oblast. The mine has estimated reserves of 98.5 million carats of diamonds and an annual production capacity of 3.62 million carats.
8. Jwaneng Diamond Mine, Botswana
The Jwaneng diamond mine is the richest diamond mine in the World and is located in south-central Botswana about 120 kilometers west of the city of Gaborone, in the Naledi river valley of the Kalahari. Jwaneng, meaning “a place of small stones”, is owned by Debswana, a partnership between the De Beers company and the government of Botswana.
9. Botuobinskaya Diamond Mine, Russia
Botuobinskaya is another kimberlite in the Yakutia region. This region is famous for its pipes and the huge diamond production. The new pipe is expected to produce one million carats in 2015, exceeding 2 million carats a year from 2016 until the end of the mine life. Botuobinskaya should have a ROM 400,000 tons extracted from an operation in the open.
10. Orapa Diamond Mine, Botswana
The Orapa diamond mine is the World’s largest diamond mine by area. The mine is located in Orapa, a town in the Boteti Sub-District of Botswana. Orapa operates seven days per week, and produces 20 million tons per year of ore and an additional 40 million tons per year of waste rock. Currently, the Orapa mine annually produces approximately 11 million carats of diamonds.
11. Victor Diamond Mine, Canada
The Victor Diamond Mine is the first Canadian diamond mine located in Ontario, and De Beers’ second diamond mine in Canada. It is located in the Northern Ontario Ring of Fire, in the James Bay Lowlands 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat in the remote northern part of the province. It is an open-pit mine. The annual production rate is 2.7 million tonnes a year, which comes to about 600,000 carats a year in diamond grade.
12. Letseng Diamond Mine, Lesotho
The Letseng diamond mine, found in the landlocked Southern African kingdom of Lesotho, is owned by Gem Diamonds, Ltd. and the government of Lesotho, and at an elevation of 3,100m it is the World’s highest diamond mine. It is characterised by extremely low grade ore and is well known for producing huge diamonds, having the highest percentage of large diamonds, giving it the highest dollar value per carat of any diamond mine.
13. Williamson Diamond Mine, Tanzania
The Williamson Diamond Mine is a diamond mine south of Mwanza in Tanzania; it became well known as the first significant diamond mine outside of South Africa. Over its lifetime it has produced over 19 million carats (3,800 kg) of diamonds.
14. Ekati Diamond Mine, Canada
The Ekati Diamond Mine is Canada’s first surface and underground diamond mine. Diamonds at the Ekati site are found in 45- to 62-million-year-old kimberlite pipes of the Lac de Gras kimberlite field, most of which lie underneath shallow lakes. Ekati supplies rough diamonds to the global market through its sorting and selling operations in Canada, Belgium, and India.
15. Premier Mine, South Africa
The Premier Mine is an underground diamond mine owned by Petra Diamonds. The mine rose to prominence in 1905, when the Cullinan Diamond – the largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found – was discovered there. The mine has produced over 750 stones that are greater than 100 carats and more than a quarter of all the World’s diamonds that are greater than 400 carats. It is also the only significant source of blue diamonds in the world.
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