An Overview of Diamond Mining

20240129 What is Diamond Mining
TheyMany people refer to diamonds as “women’s best friends” and regard them as valuable possessions. Few individuals are curious about the journey that diamonds must take to reach retail outlets, despite regard for them as the most exquisite and dazzling pieces of jewelry. Diamond mining began its journey one hundred miles beneath the earth’s crust a billion years ago. At a pressure 45,000 times that of sea level, carbon atoms solidify into diamond, the most rigid substance on the planet. At a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, volcanic pipelines of molten kimberlite press through solid rock to transport the diamonds that we now admire to the earth’s surface. Since the last significant diamond-bearing eruption occurred one hundred million years ago, all diamond deposits currently extracted are older than that time period.

How are Diamonds Mined?

Are diamonds precious? This is not entirely accurate. Although the general public may perceive naturally occurring diamonds as more uncommon in comparison to other precious jewels, this perception is not accurate. Nevertheless, high-quality diamonds, regardless of whether they are naturally occurring or synthetic, provide exceptional value. In order to obtain them, mining companies invest billions of dollars in the construction of mines. Mining companies extract an average of 250 kilograms of earth from a mine to obtain a single carat of diamond. Diamonds are mineral deposits. It is worth noting that certain varieties of diamonds originate from kimberlite rock, which forms through volcanic eruptions, for those curious about the process of diamond formation and the locations where diamonds are discovered. Other types of minerals can also contain diamonds, but the fundamental mining procedures remain consistent.

Diamond Mining Process

Step 1: Crushing

After collecting the diamond-bearing sediment and ore, workers transfer it to a primary crusher. The main function of the main crushing machine is to reduce the ore’s size to chucks or fragments that are more manageable, with a maximum dimension of 150mm. In addition, a secondary crusher, known as a roll crusher, may be used to further reduce the size of the ore.

Step 2: Scrubbing

During this phase, we screen and scrub the ore to remove any loose, superfluous material. Material with a diameter of less than 1.5mm is disposed of due to the prohibitive cost of diamond extraction from such a minute ore specimen.

Step  3 – Cyclonic Separation Structure

In this phase, the operators combine the diamond-bearing ore with a ferrosilicon powder and water solution, determining its relative density. Feeding this solution into a cyclone agitates the substance and compels a separation. Substances with a high density settle to the bottom, producing a stratum of diamond-rich concentrate.

Step 4: Recovery

These processes apply magnetic susceptibility, X-ray luminescence, and crystallographic laser fluorescence to the diamond-rich concentrate. They utilize the unique properties of diamonds for calculation. The procedures aim to separate the raw diamond from other high-density substances collected by the cyclonic separation facility. Consider the fluorescence of a diamond when it is exposed to X-rays. A microprocessor receives a signal from sensors that identify light bursts the diamond emits and fires an air blast at it, causing it to spit into a collection box.

Step 5: Cleaning, Weighing, and Packaging

After the recovery procedure, we wash, weigh, and purify the diamonds in an acid solution. Then, we seal them in receptacles for transport. On-site personnel number the containers and affix a tamper-resistant seal in accordance with the Kimberley process; in addition, a certificate of origin is provided.

Types of Diamond Mining

Pipe Mining

This mining comprises two distinct processes: open-pit mining and underground mining. During open-pit mining, workers extract the strata of sediment and rock directly above the kimberlite. Once the ore in the trench is exposed, blast fragments of it. One explosion is capable of fracturing around 3,000 tonnes of ore. Haul trucks convey the fractured ore to a primary ore crusher, where the diamond extraction process commences. The Big Kimberley Hole serves as an illustration of open-pit mining. Miners tunnel through the Earth’s crust to reach the kimberlite conduit in underground mining. Miners construct conduits to connect the two levels, with one level above the other.  blast ore on the uppermost level to initiate mining, and as it descends through the funnels, it accumulates in the second tunnel. Loaders retrieve the fractured ore and transport it to the surface for further processing.

Alluvial Mining

The kimberlite conduit that ascends to the Earth’s surface undergoes erosion and weathering over millennia due to the action of wind, precipitation, rivers, and streams. Wind, precipitation, rivers, and streams transport rough diamonds embedded in the eroded kimberlite downstream. South Africa initially extracted diamonds from alluvial sediments. Miners construct a substantial wall to concentrate water in a specific location in contemporary industrial alluvial mining. Frequently discovered in the sediment layer, which accumulates beneath strata of additional substances including silt, clay, and submerged vegetation. After gathering the gravel, it is transported to the surface and prepared for processing.

Marine Mining

The extraction of diamonds from the ocean floor, which is hundreds of meters deep, constitutes marine mining. Shore diving was the earliest form of marine mining; swimmers would collect diamond-bearing debris from the shallow seabed. Present-day technological advancements enable specialized vessels to mine for diamonds at great depths. These specialized vessels employ a robust crawler that extracts gravel from the ocean floor via flexible hoses or pipelines. Marine diamond deposits off the coast of Namibia are the most abundant source known to man, contributing to around 64% of the country’s overall diamond production. A crawler extracts diamond-shaped gravel from the seafloor via flexible pipelines in horizontal marine mining. Large ships equipped with drills extract diamond debris from the seafloor through vertical mining.

The Largest Diamond Mines in the World

At present, Russia stands as the foremost producer of diamonds, with Botswana, Canada, Angola, and South Africa following suit. Chemical-free operations contribute to diamond mining’s comparatively modest environmental impact, in contrast to the majority of the mining sector. Many operations strive to achieve carbon neutrality through various initiatives. (De Beers is developing carbon sequestration technology for decommissioned mines.) According to the Diamond Producers Association, the carbon footprint of a one-carat polished natural diamond is significantly lower than that of the majority of CVD synthetic diamonds of comparable size. Moreover, diamond mining serves as a significant contributor to employment in numerous developing countries worldwide that lack alternative employment opportunities.

To Conclude

In essence, the chronicle of a diamond’s progression from its intrusive depths in the Earth to its eventual arrival in jewelry stores demonstrates the extraordinary and undying allure of these invaluable gemstones. The mining and extraction procedures for diamonds entail intricate environmental and logistical challenges, despite their high regard for aesthetic appeal. A multitude of mining techniques, such as open-pit, underground, and marine mining, each present distinct challenges and consequences. Efforts are ongoing to enhance the sustainability and environmental responsibility of the diamond mining industry. Nevertheless, it is critical to acknowledge that the diamond industry additionally functions as a vital provider of jobs and economic stability, especially in areas where job prospects are scarce. Diamonds are rare and valuable gemstones that undergo a series of transformations before attaining their well-known and cherished status. Various methodologies effectively extract diamonds. Their entire voyage is undoubtedly extensive.

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