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The Hidden World Below: A Deep Dive into Diamond Mining

Unearthing Brilliance: A Journey into the Diamond Mining Process

Introduction:

Diamonds start their journey deep below the Earth and are sought after for their incomparable beauty and enduring significance.

The diamond mining process is a fascinating and complex operation that demands careful planning, cutting-edge technology, and a profound regard for environment.

From the first phases of research to the ultimate transformation of raw diamonds into the brilliant jewels we cherish, we will take you on a fascinating study of the diamond mining process in this blog article.

Exploration and Discovery:

The diamond mining process starts with exploration, as geologists analyze potential diamond-rich areas.

Through geological surveys, remote sensing, and analysis of indicator minerals, they identify locations with the highest probability of diamond deposits.

Once a potential site is identified, further exploration activities, including core drilling and sampling, take place to assess the presence and quality of diamond-bearing ore.

The diamond mining process is as old as the discovery of diamonds in India…this was approximately in the 9th Century BC.

Open cast diamond mining process

The exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery.

Its know that diamonds were created by nature more than 3 billion years ago.

The elemental forces of heat & pressure miraculously transformed carbon in to diamonds deep below the earths’ surface.

Volcanic eruptions brought the volcanic mass where crystallization took place to the earths’ surface.

Then mass then cooled in kimberlite or lampotite pipes where most diamonds are found today.

There are two main methods of mining diamonds.

The primary method is pipe mining; the secondary is alluvial mining.

Pipe diamond mining process

Magmas containing diamonds generated by volcanic activity cooled to form diamondiferous cores or “pipes” in the earth.

Pipe mining is like the process for mining coal underground.

The “blueground” (a term used to describe the earth in which diamonds are formed) is crushed and flushed with water as it moves on conveyor belts through tubes.

Once the diamond-bearing matter is washed, it is dropped onto greased belts.

Diamonds stick to the grease; other matter is washed away.

The grease is then boiled away, leaving rough diamonds.

Alluvial diamond mining process

Some diamonds were released from volcanic pipes by erosion of the earth’s surface…they were then washed away down ancient riverbeds or to coastal areas.

This action created alluvial deposits from which diamonds are recovered.

Alluvial diamond mining method

Some of the diamond mining equipment used for these deposits involves the use of huge bulldozers to shovel the alluvial sands directly into washing plants for processing.

This method is less costly than opencast pipe mining as it’s completely mechanized.

Smaller diamond mining processes also still exist in the rivers themselves where sediment is processed for rough diamonds – often using techniques that have not changed in a hundred years like panning.

Before panning, sand containing diamonds is dug up and piled up.

The miners then take small amounts of the sand, place it in pans add water and swirl it all around…..the water-sand mixture is let to pour out gradually as more water is added until the diamonds which are heavier than sand remain at the bottom of the pan.

As simple as it might seem, this is a process that needs a lot of patience and expertise.

This is one of the reasons diamonds tend to be more expensive than other gems.

Lets also look at the Herkimer mining process.

What are herkimer diamonds?

The are a water-clear, double-terminated Quartz crystal.

These crystals which are naturally facetted with 18 natural facets ONLY come from Central New Yorks Mohawk Valley.

Herkimer diamond mining is hard work. Since the fossilized dolomite limestone is some of the hardest rock in America, you will need to be very patient.

It is manual work which might or might not yield results as the herkimer diamonds have been thoroughly mined.

So where do all these diamonds mined? Some of the largest and most productive diamond mines are in Africa.

Most of us have heard of De beers in South Africa, Namibia, DRC, Angola and Tanzania.

Do you know that mining diamonds in Sierra Leone a small country in West Africa is getting bigger and bigger?

Due to the protracted war in their country the diamond mining processes were not carried out on a large scale.

Mining is now carried out legally by small scale miners as well as large corporations who now feel that it is safe to set up mining facilities now that Sierra Leone have a stable government.

Diamond Processing:

Once the diamond-bearing ore is extracted, it undergoes a meticulous processing journey to reveal the precious gems within:

a. Crushing and Sorting:
The ore is transported to a processing plant, where it is crushed into smaller pieces. The fragments are then sorted using various techniques, including dense media separation and X-ray technology, to separate the diamonds from other minerals and materials.

b. Diamond Recovery:
After sorting, the diamond-rich concentrate is subjected to further treatment for diamond recovery. This process may involve the use of heavy liquids, X-ray sorters, or grease tables to isolate and extract the diamonds from the concentrate.

c. Rough Diamond Assessment:
The recovered diamonds, known as rough diamonds, undergo careful assessment and classification. Gemologists and diamond experts evaluate the size, shape, color, and clarity of each rough diamond to determine its potential value and the most suitable cutting and polishing techniques.

Cutting and Polishing:

The rough diamonds deemed suitable for cutting and polishing are sent to specialized diamond cutting centers. Highly skilled artisans, known as diamond cutters, meticulously shape the rough diamonds into the mesmerizing gems we adore.

This process involves precise planning, expert craftsmanship, and advanced technology to maximize the diamond’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

Diamond Grading and Certification:

Once the diamonds are cut and polished, they undergo rigorous grading and certification by renowned gemological laboratories. Grading experts assess the diamond’s 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) and other factors, ensuring consistency, accuracy, and transparency in the evaluation process.

A diamond certificate is issued, providing detailed information about the diamond’s characteristics and authenticity.

Conclusion:

The diamond mining process is a captivating journey that unearths the natural beauty hidden deep within the Earth.

From the initial exploration to the intricate cutting and polishing, each step requires expertise, precision, and a deep respect for the rarity and allure of diamonds.

By understanding the intricate process behind the diamond mining process, we gain a greater appreciation for these remarkable gems and the skilled hands that bring their brilliance to life.


Diamond Info | Diamond Grades | Mining Process

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