Friday, March 1, 2013

Mir Mine - The largest diamond mine in the world


At 525 meters deep, the Mir mine in Eastern Siberia is the fourth deepest open mine pit and the second largest excavated area in the world. In 1955 it was the first kimberlite pipe to be discovered in Russia. At the time the Soviet Union required big amounts of industrial diamonds to rebuild the enormous country, especially in mechanical machinery. Mining conditions at Mir were extremely harsh. During the seven month winter temperatures were so low that oil and rubber tires of vehicles froze. In addition, the mine had to be covered to prevent the heavy machinery from freezing. Summer did not make conditions much better since the permafrost would transform into stubborn mud.

At its height the mine produced around 2 million carats of diamonds a year. However, from the 1970s onward, the Mir mine started producing smaller amounts of diamonds until in 2004 the mine was closed.

In 2010 plans came out of a Russian construction company hoping to build a domed city in the abandoned mine powered by solar energy. It could house up to 100,000 people.

(for more info see http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-11/17/russia-domed-city-siberia )

Image: Filip Singer

References:
http://www.abazias.com/diamondblog/diamond-industry/a-brief-history-of-the-worlds-largest-open-pit-diamond-mine
http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/mirny-diamond-mine

Sobolev & Logvinova et al. 2004. Mineral inclusions in microdiamonds and macrodiamonds from kimberlites of Yakutia: a comparative study



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