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No Sustainable Diamonds: Mining Before Diamond Foundry

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Style Guide

No Sustainable Diamonds: Mining Before Diamond Foundry

Diamond Industry

No Sustainable Diamonds: Mining Before Diamond Foundry

July 13, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Style Guide

Up until a few years ago, the only way to get diamonds was by mining for them. Even today, there are currently a large but finite number of commercially viable mines operating in the world. The fifty largest mines account for approximately 90% of global supply.

There is no way to mine diamonds sustainably, and so there are no sustainable diamonds found in nature. Natural diamonds are not a renewable resource. As new mines are built, the industry can implement changes to attempt to limit the destruction of pristine spaces, but nothing can change the fact that an average of 200 to 250 tons of dirt and rock need to be moved to uncover a one carat diamond.

Where Are Diamonds Mined?

Diamond mines dot the globe. In Africa the countries with diamond producing mines include Angola, Botswana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Discovered in August 1870, the Jagers- Fontein mine was one of the first kimberlite pipes to be found in South Africa.

Of the mines in Asia, Russia is the largest producer. Indonesia has the Martapura mine and India has a number of mines, though it is still known primarily as a diamond cutting center.

Canada has become a major diamond producer since the Ekati mine opened in 1998. Between 1998 and 2009, the Ekati mine has produced 40 million carats (8,000 kg or 17,637 lb) of diamonds out of six open pits. Ekati’s current annual production is estimated to be approximately 7.5 million carats (1,500 kg or 3,307 lb) of diamonds.

In addition to the Ekati mine, Canada is home to 5 other major mines: Diavik, Jericho, Victor, Snap Lake and Gahcho Kue. Diavik produces approximately 7.5 million carats (1,500 kg (3,300 lb)) of diamonds annually.

Australia is home to three large diamond mines. The Argyle, The Merlin, and The Ellendale.

How Are Diamonds Mined?

blog2 - pit mine

No matter the method, mining diamonds is environmentally destructive. Pit mining is the most common way to recover diamonds. The definition of a open pit mine is “an excavation or cut made at the surface of the ground for the purpose of extracting ore and which is open to the surface for the duration of the mine’s life.”  In pit mining, heavy machinery, hydraulic shovels, and trucks are used to mine diamonds. Despite a range of technical innovations in the field of energy-saving drives developed in recent years, solid rock mining pits in particular still require considerable amounts of energy.

blog2 - underground mining

Some diamond mines are underground. This method can be extremely complex. It requires a lot of engineering to ensure proper safety for the workers in these mines. 

blog2 - underwater

De Beers and other diamond miners also literally comb the ocean floors to mine diamonds. Using a large hose, they vacuum the habitat on the sea floor in search of diamonds. Additionally, they drill beneath the waves in an attempt to find diamonds buried under the ocean bottom. 

blog2 - alluvial

The fourth kind of mining is called alluvial mining. Using this method, miners search river beds and other natural collection points for diamonds brought to the surface through natural means like, wind, water, and volcanic movements. 

Before Diamond Foundry, finding the symbol of everlasting love was dangerous and environmentally destructive. Mined diamonds just aren’t sustainable diamonds. Happily, our technology enabled this process to evolve!

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