The Orapa diamond mine is the largest diamond mine on the planet. It is run by the Debswana Company, a partnership between De Beers and the Botswana government. The mine encompasses an area measuring 1.18 square kilometers. Every year the mine produces millions of carats of diamonds. It also generates 20 million tons of ore each year.
How Big is the Diamond Mining Industry?
Mining and selling of diamonds is a multi-billion dollar business. Diamonds are precious stones sought after by consumers. But it is also used in numerous industries. The high demand is the reason why numerous diamond mining companies exist today. In many countries all over the world, diamond industries are sprouting up.
Blood diamonds are illegal mining operations. Here, the diamonds are unearthed via forced labor. Blood diamond mining occurs most frequently in places like Congo and Sierra Leone. Not only are the natives exploited; but the profits are used to finance the conflicts in those places.
How Diamonds are Mined
Whether it is the largest diamond mine or the smallest, two mining methods are usually used: piping or alluvial mining.
This does not refer to manmade pipes or tubes but to a type of geological configuration. The pipes are areas where volcanic activity has taken place. What happens is that a channel for the magma is created. This is between the mantle and crust.
The magma will then carry the diamonds from inside the earth. It is from the depths of the planet that the diamonds are born. The magma would create a deposit, and this is what is mined. Many kinds of pipe diamond deposits exist, but the most common is kimberlite. These deposits are mined utilizing the open pit technique.
These are also known as secondary deposits because they are the results of kimberlite deposit erosion. Erosion is caused by streams or rivers. These slice through the kimberlite. In the process the diamonds are taken downstream.
With industrial mining, the diamonds are mined by creating a wall to still the water flow. Most of the diamonds are found in the gravel layer. After the gravel is hauled, it will be searched for diamonds.
The two methods described are used by some of the largest diamond mines in the world. But companies are always searching for new ways to improve their mining operations; this means new methods are always being developed.