Saturday, 6 September 2014

Mir Diamond Mine Russia

Mir Mine is actually a diamond mine located in Mirny Eastern Siberia Russia. It is also called Mirny Mine, and when it was decided to close in 2004, the mine was 525 meters deep and 1,200 meters across making it the 2nd largest excavated hole in the world, after “Bingham Canyon Mine”. In the first look everyone gets amazed about the hole of mine, because it is really too massive hole. The airspace above the mine is closed for helicopters because of incidents in which they were sucked in by the downward air flow.

In 1957, mining started due to extreme harsh climate conditions. The Siberian winter seasons lasted more than seven months which have frozen the ground, but making it extremely difficult to mine. However; during the brief summer seasons which is lasted only few months, permafrost would become mud turning the whole mining operation into a land of sludge. Buildings had to be raised on piles, so that they would not sink.

The main processing plant had to be built on better ground, found 20 kilometers away from the mine. The winter temperatures are extremely low that car tires and steel would shatter and oil would freeze. During the winter, workers used jet engines to burn through the layer of permafrost or blasted it with dynamite to get access to the underlying kimberlite. The whole mine had to be covered at night to prevent the machinery from freezing.

When the Mining is on peak, it produced about 10 million carats of diamond per year, of which a relatively high fraction (20%) were of gem quality. This has worried to De Beers Company, which at that time was distributing most of the world's diamonds. The company was pushed to buy larger and larger shipments of high-quality Russian diamonds in order to control the market price.

For De Beers, Mir mine was a puzzling mystery. The mine’s massive output was not consistent with the fairly small size of the mine. However in the 1970’s when the mine producing small quantities of diamonds, the Soviets were producing an increasing quantity of gem diamonds. In conclusion, in 1976, De Beers requested a tour of the Mir mine to fulfill their curiosity. Therefore; permission was well granted, but the Russians kept delaying the visit and by the time and the team of delegates reached the Mir mine, just before their visas were expired, so that they could have only 20 minutes at the Mir mine.

But the visit did a little to shed light on the secret of the Mir’s diamond production. When USSR was collapsed in 1990s, the mine was operated by a few local companies and they had worked until 2004 when the mine was enduringly closed.