Little Bits of History

Diamonds Are Forever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2013
Mir Mine

Mir Mine

June 13, 1955: The Mir Mine – a diamond mine near Mirny, Eastern Siberia – is discovered. Geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekarterina Elagina, and V. Avdeenko were part of the large Amakinsky Expedition in Yukat, ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). This region of the USSR was found to contain the first diamond mines in Russia. The mine was worked for almost 50 years, closing on April 30, 2004.

The open pit diamond mine produced 2 million carats annually. Kimberlite, or igneous rock best known for containing diamonds, was open mined leaving a large empty pit behind. The pit itself is 1,725 feet deep with a diameter of 3,950 feet. Giant industrial yellow trucks with 200-220 ton payloads brought ore to the surface, driving along a spiral road carved into the sloping side of the pit. The trip from bottom to top took 1.5 to 2 hours.

The huge pit lies just outside the city of Mirny. Helicopters are forbidden to fly over the scar in the earth as downdrafts have been known to suck them in. With the mine closed, there is nothing left but a huge hole. Today, the Udachnaya pipe, discovered two days after Mir, is still in operation. It is more than 1,975 feet deep and controlled by Alrosa. The open pit method of mining is scheduled to be abandoned by 2010 in favor of an underground technique.

Diamonds aren’t the only commodity gathered by open pit methods. Many building materials are obtained in this way and the pits are then called quarries. Strip mining is also open pit. Metal ores such as copper, iron, gold, and molybdenum are mined in this fashion. There are remarkably huge mines on every continent. Open pit mines occur where the valuable material lies close to the surface and mining usually continues until the seam is exhausted or the cost of bringing the commodity to the surface outweighs the benefit. Rehabilitation of the pits can be brought about by using them for landfills for solid wastes. Water control must be maintained to keep the pit from becoming a lake.

“I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Proverbs are mental gems gathered in the diamond districts of the mind.” – William R. Alger

“I’m Jewish. I don’t work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor.” – Joan Rivers

“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” – Malcolm S. Forbes

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Udachnaya pipe remains a viable diamond mine operated by Alrosa. The name itself means “lucky pipe”. They did shift to underground mining in 2010 due to prohibitive cost of bringing up the diamonds from the world’s third deepest pit. The Bingham Canyon Mine, a copper mine located in northwestern Utah, is over 0.6 miles (3,168 feet) deep and 2.5 miles wide. It covers 1,900 acres and remains in operation under Rio Tinto Group, headquartered in the UK. The second deepest open pit mine is located in Chile and is also a copper mine. Chuquicamata is 2,790 feet deep. It, too, remains in operation under Codelco, a Chilean state enterprise.

Also on this day: You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.
Crushed – In 1881, the USS Jeanette sunk in the polar ice.

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2 Responses

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on June 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Sometimes there so many diamonds on the martket that Nikita Khrushchev sent me a box of about 3 pounds of uncut diamonds. Pretty even when uncut, I did not have any use for them so I donated them to Stanford University. I never told Nikita what I did with them except that I put them somewhere. He had sent them for two reasons- one to get rid of some because they could not sell them because of a glut on the market(Jewish diamond people were and still are highly racially-protected of their businesses) and because I had solved the problem of rain and snow going into the mine by having them carve the rock around the top so that it slated away from the mine into a controled area. Even as wide as it eventually got, the mine never received much rain and snow directly. And about the tires cracking- I remember finding some plastic/rubber pads for Walt Disney to use on the banks and bottom for his water attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim- they worked well at the Mir mine. When the weather warmed up they were rolled up and saved for the next cold spell. These kinds of pads were used by the mines in and near the Union of South Africa because of the muddy conditions. The then President,Swart, said there was a funny-looking cut and polished diamond that he wanted to send me as a thank you but even as President he could only look at it through thick glass!

  2. Sherry said, on June 14, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Delusions AND anti-semitism. Awesome, Bobby Dias! *eyeball roll*

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