A symbol of strength and beauty, the diamond is an amazing natural resource, but how is it acquired in its raw form? Diamonds are not simple rocks, They must be processed in stages before they can make their way to market for wholesalers and jewelers.
Volcanic eruptions, called kimberlite eruptions, brought mineral deposits, including diamonds to the surface of the Earth. Kimberlite deposits can be mined in several different manners. Kimberlite deposits begin to appear at 15 meters below ground.
Diamond mining is complex and labor intensive, which why high-quality diamonds are so expensive. When diamonds are close to the surface, they can be mined using open pit mining. First, geologists need to follow secondary sources of diamonds until to find where the larger diamonds will be. Once a profitable area is located, the rocks and earth must be blasted through to get to the deposits. Ore-bearing pipes are inserted into the ground to remove most of the soil. The soil is transported to another location to be examined, in order to save time and resources.
The ore may only contain small amounts of gem-quality diamonds, depending on how rich it is. Unfortunately, open-pit mines cannot be refilled once the diamonds have been extracted. These pits are so deep that they can be seen from outer space. World-famous diamonds were extracted from the Kimberly Open Mine, the largest man-made pit on Earth.
Underground mining is only possible when the shape and size of the kimberlite deposits allow for equipment and laborers. This is a dangerous form of mining as it involves drilling two shafts parallel to the kimberlite, up to 2km deep, then digging tunnels. Rocks and are pulled from the kimberlite are then carted out of the tunnels to be screened. The location of diamonds is relative to the Earth’s climate.
River Diamonds owns 100% of the Vatukoula Gold Mine in Fiji, a producing gold mine which contains 830,000oz of reserves and a 5.15 million oz resource. They also benefit from a strong management team, with many years of global experience in both the investment and operational side of the gold and diamond industry. River Diamonds also owns 100% of the Rio Novo Gold prospect in Brazil, consisting of 4 claims over an area of 30,000 hectares. Additionally, they own diamond exploration assets in Sierra Leone, which are awaiting renewal of exploration license.
Diamonds shift positions with water and time, and what was once a good place to mine for diamonds might not always be a good place. Seabed mining is done by a remote-controlled crawler attached to a long hose on a ship. The crawler vacuums up sediment, bringing the kimberlite through the hose. The sediment is passed through machines that cull and sort by size and using geological X-rays. Any diamonds make travel down five floors of machinery to sealed can-like containers. The sediment is returned to the ocean via the hose and resettles. Seabed mining is a relatively new technology, but it is slowly taking off.
Alluvial mining starts where secondary diamonds have drifted to, such as riverbeds, beaches, and offshore locations. The water is drained from the area and a wall is built to prevent new water flow. Bulldozers are used to dig up the area. The soil and sand and rocks are transported to a separate screening plant for processing. Similar to gold mining, artisanal mining involves screening and straining mud. It is a low-tech, high-labor process, but uses fewer resources.
After mining, rough diamonds must be sorted and processed. Sorting is time-consuming as there are hundreds of categories, including gem-quality, color, clarity, and weight. After the initial sorting, the diamonds must only be handled by tweezers and are sorted again by gem quality, industrial grade, and bort (dark, imperfect diamonds).
The color of a diamond will determine the way it will be cut. The goal with diamond cutting is to have the finished stone be as smooth as possible. The facets are created precisely by masters of their craft, under microscopes to detect and inspect for any flaws. From mining to wholesale to jeweler, the diamond process can take years. The end results of diamond mining are often under-appreciated and seen as commonplace. Each diamond is unique.
Diamond mining techniques have evolved over the years, as have diamond trends such as cremation jewelry and other types of remembrance pieces. Technology is making strides in finding diamonds differently and more economically friendly. Locating a kimberlite pipe is the first step in the long journey of having beautiful diamonds, whether it be in the ocean or on land.
While diamonds can be found all over the world, the most diamond-rich mines are located in Russia, Australia, and multiple countries in Africa. Mining diamonds is no simple feat but is rewarding in the end.