The accumulation of diamonds has come a very long way since the first examples of this hugely precious stone were discovered in India in around 400 BC. Most of the world’s diamond deposits were formed over 1 billion years ago, yet gaining access to them has necessitated the development of hugely sophisticated modern technology.
As mining engineering has become more advanced, so the pits being excavated have become deeper. So here is our guide to the ten deepest diamond mines in the world.
Click on any of the photos for a close-up of the
Deepest Diamond Mines on Earth
10. Jagersfontein – 275 meters
South Africa is undoubtedly the dominant country in diamond mining, and this abandoned open-pit mine in the Free State province has a special place in the nation’s mining history. Two of the ten biggest diamonds ever discovered were mined at Jagersfontein, while the hole in the earth excavated at Jagersfontein has been confirmed by independent research to be the largest ever, at 19.65 hectares (48.6 acres).
9. Jubilee – 320 meters
Russia is also a major player in diamond mining, and the Jubilee mine (known as the Yubileyny diamond mine in Russia) is the biggest diamond mine in the world, despite only making eighth place in this list. Located in Sakha in the Republic of Russia, the mine is reckoned to contain 153 million carats of recoverable diamonds. The mine has been in production for over 30 years, having opened back in 1986. However, the true potential of Jubilee has yet to be touched, as it is believed that it will eventually be possible to mine it to a depth of 720 meters.
8. Liqhobong – 393 meters
Located 120 kilometers northeast of Maseru, the Liqhobong diamond mine doesn’t quite reach a depth of 400 meters, but it still comfortably belongs on this list. This mine gets its somewhat unlikely name from the Liqhobong valley, and is appropriately owned by the Liqhobong Mining Development Company. This $185 million project only went live last year, but has already made a significant contribution to South Africa’s pre-eminence in the diamond trade.
7. Diavik – 400 meters
Undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and unique diamond mines in the world, Diavik is located in the Canadian Arctic. It has reaped over 100 million carats of diamonds since opening back in 2003. Four kimberlite pipes are utilized at the site, and it is believed that there are six more years worth of diamonds at this location in the Archean-age geologic province. Although Canada is the second largest country in terms of landmass, it has only recently acquired a reputation for precious stones. Yet Diavik is playing a major role in changing this perception.
6. Venetia – 450 meters
The Venetia diamond mine is one of the six pits that comprise the De Beers operation in South Africa. Opened back in 1992, the Venetia mine is located in the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, close to the town of Alldays, in the Limpopo Province. Venetia was the first diamond mine to achieve ISO 9002 quality management certification, and benefits from a sophisticated dust control system. At 450 meters deep, Venetia is definitely among the most formidable diamond mines in the world.
5. Mir – 525 meters
Another major Russia mine, Mir, sometimes referred to as Mirny, is another vast diamond pit in the world’s largest nation by surface area. Excavation of Mir began back in 1955, and has reached 525 meters in the contemporary world. Open pit mining is no longer in operation at Mir, but work is continuing by underground methods. Located in eastern Siberia, there is something of a secrecy surrounding this project, with special permits required in order to gain access to Mir.
4. Argyle – 600 meters
The Argyle diamond mine is located in Australia’s rugged Kimberley region, and was opened after geologists happened across a diamond in the region back in 1979. Over the last 30 years, the mine has become particularly associated with its pink diamonds, with Argyle responsible for over 90% of the world’s pink diamond stock. Considered one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines of any nature, the Argyle diamond mine also reaches an impressive depth of 600 meters.
3. Udachnaya Pipe – 600 meters
Located in the Daldyn-Alakit kimberlite field in Sakha Republic, the Udachanya Pipe diamond mine is one of the deepest and most important in Russia. Ironically, this mine was discovered in June, 1955, just two days after the aforementioned Mir was also first documented. The mine has estimated reserves of 225.8 million carats of diamonds, and an annual production capacity of 10.4 million carats. Its 600-meter depth can be attributed to the concentration on underground mining at the site.
2. Koffiefontein – 620 meters
Koffiefontein is one of only four diamond mines on the planet to exceed 600 meters in depth, and is just 5 meters shy of being the very deepest. Discovered in 1870, this underground mine is situated 110 kilometers south-east of Kimberley, South Africa. Jointly owned by Re-Teng Diamonds and Petra Diamonds, it is expected that the diamond reserves here will last for another 20 years. Koffiefontein is accessible via a roadway that descends over 500 meters under the earth, and is also notable for producing some of the highest value diamonds in the world, at a depth of 620 meters.
1. Jwaneng – 625 meters
Jwaneng mine is one of the most valuable diamond mines in the world, and also the very deepest. Located in the Naledi River Valley in Southern Botswana, expansion of the mine has ensured that it can be exploited to a depth of 625 meters, with production at the facility touching 15 million carats per year. The Jwaneng diamond mine also borders the spectacular Jwana Game Park, which comprises nearly 16,000 hectares and accommodates approximately 1,700 animals. Having recently expanded, Jwaneng is now considered to be the deepest diamond mine in the world, reaching an extent of 625 meters.
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