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Top 10 Biggest Diamond Mines

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

September 17, 2020

Diamonds mines, where it all started. They are the centers where rough diamonds are found and produced. Russia is the country with the biggest diamond mines but we cannot forget about other countries. Botswana, Canada, Angola, and South-Africa are also big players on the map of diamond mines. Aren't you curious about where the biggest mines are located? We will highlight the top 10 for you.

1. Aikhal – Russia

Aikhal (means ‘fame’) is the biggest diamond mine in the world. It is located in Yakutia, in the far east of Russia. The owner of this mine is one of the biggest mining companies in the world, Alrosa. ALROSA Group is a Russian partially state-owned diamond mining company. It accounts for a third of global rough diamond production. Aikhal started as an open pit from 1961 to 1997 and is from 2005 an underground mine with a depth of up to 200 meters and they are still going deeper. The annual production of the mine lies around 1.3 million carats and has reserves up to 40/50 million carats.

Aikhal Diamond Mine is the biggest diamond mine

The Aikhal Diamond Mine in Russia. Bron: mining.com

2. Jwaneng – Botswana

Jwaneng (means ‘a place of small stones’) is the richest diamond mine in terms of value. It is located in the South of Botswana, in the Kalahari Desert. De Beers Group owns the diamond mine through a partnership with the government of Botswana. De Beers Group is the biggest mining company in the world, possessing 35% of global rough diamond production. Furthermore, Jwaneng is an open-pit mine and in use since 1982. The annual production lies around 12 million carats. As you can notice this is considerably more than the production of the Aikhal mine, value plays a big role.

Jwaneng Diamond Mine is the second biggest diamond mine

The Jwaneng Diamond Mine in Botswana. Bron: ESI Africa

3. Udachny – Russia

Udachny (means ‘lucky’) is the third biggest diamond mine in the world and also located in Yakutia, like the Aikhal mine. Besides that, it is again part of the ALROSA Group. The diamond mine is an open-pit mine with a depth of more than 630 meters, which is considerably deep for an open-pit. The ALROSA group also started an underground mine as the open-pit mining resources are coming to an end. The annual production of the mine lies around 5 million carats due to the underground mine.

Udachny Diamond Mine

The Udachny Diamond Mine in Russia. Bron: Pinterest

4. Nyurba – Russia

Nyurba is again located in Yakutia. The ALROSA Group owns this diamond mine, but the Nyurba Mining and Processing Division, a subsidiary company of the ALROSA group operates it. Nyurba is an open-pit mine since 2001 but only began its productions in 2015. This makes it one of the youngest mining and processing divisions of the ALROSA group. The diamond output varies quite a lot, in a range between 0.7 and 2 million carats per year.

Nyurba diamond Mine

The Nyurba Diamond Mine in Russia. Bron: Russian Business Today

5. Orapa – Botswana

The Orapa (means ‘resting place for lions’) mine is named after the city it is located in, in the East of Botswana. De Beers Group owns the diamond mine through a partnership with the government of Botswana, just like the Jwaneng mine. Orapa is an open-pit mine and begun its productions in 1971. It has an annual production of around 11 million carats. They had a record of 17.3 million carats of diamonds in 2006! A new town was built to support this mine.

Orapa Diamond Mine is one of the biggest diamond mines

The Orapa Diamond Mine in Botswana.

6. Catoca – Angola

The Catoca diamond mine is located in the Northeast of Angola. The African diamond mine is the sixth largest diamond mine in the world. It is owned through a joint venture of Endiama (32.8%), The ALROSA Group (32.8%), China Sonagol (18%), and Odebrecht Mining (16.4%). The Catoca is an open-pit mine and began productions in 1997. Its normal annual output is around 10 million carats, but they had a downfall in 2020 of 80%. The annual output was only 2 million carats. This mine accounts for 75% of Angola’s total diamond production, so it was not a good year for Angola…

Catoca Diamond Mine

The Catoca Diamond Mine in Angola. Bron: Pinterest

7. Ekati – Canada

The Ekati (means ‘Fat Lake’) diamond mine is located in the Northwest of Canada, Lac de Gras. It was Canada’s first underground and open pit mine that began operating. The production started in the late ’90s, more precisely in 1998. Dominion Diamond Mines was the owner but recently (17/09/2020) sold its diamond mine to the Washington Companies for $126 Million. The mine’s annual production estimates at around 7.5 million carats but it varies quite a lot. The Ekati mine was shut down in March due to Covid-19 but it is planning to open again between August and October this year (2020).

Ekati Diamond Mine

The Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada. Bron: Wikipedia

8. Venetia – South Africa

The Venetia diamond mine is located in the Northeast corner of South Africa, near the Limpopo river. This diamond mine accounts for 40% of South Africa’s annual diamond production. Thereby it is the biggest diamond producing mine in South Africa. It is currently an open-pit mine but that will only last till 2021. After that, an underground mine will be used for production with an estimated life up till 2046. The diamond mine is owned and used by the De Beers Group. The mine’s annual production estimates at around 4 million carats. An environmental fact about the mine is that it uses water to a bare minimum and recycles a third of the process water.

Venetia Diamond Mine is one of the biggest diamond mines

The Venetia Diamond Mine in South Africa. Bron: RIBCCS

9. Lomonosov – Russia

The Lomonosov (named after a Russian scientist) diamond mine is located in the Northwest of Russia, in Arkhangelsk Oblast near Europe. Lomosonov is owned by the ALROSA group and operated by a subsidiary of ALROSA, namely PAO Sevarlmaz.  The mine’s annual production is around 2 million carats. One in every 350 carats of this mine is fancy colored. That is quite an impressive amount.

Lomonosov Diamond Mine

The Lomonosov Diamond Mine. Bron: IM-Mining

10. Mir – Russia

Last but not least, another diamond mine located in Yakutia, Russia. Mir means peace in Russian. This diamond mine is again part of the ALROSA Group but the Mirny mining and processing division oqwns and operates the diamond mine. The production of the open-pit mine started in 1957 and stopped in 2001. Underground mining began in 2009 but unfortunately stopped in 2017 and it never started again. There is a chance they will resume productions starting from 2030 on. Annual production was at around 3 million carats.

Mir Diamond Mine is one of the biggest diamond mines

The Mir Diamond Mine. Bron: Pinterest

Countries and their characteristics

  • As you probably noticed, Russia holds the world’s largest and richest diamond resources. Russian diamond resources are known for their fluorescence and they come often in the shape Crystal (eight facets and sharp corners).
  • Botswana (Africa) is another world player on the map. Most of its diamond production is gem quality and most of the stones have medium and high colors, they might have a greenish skin.
  • Canada characterizes by three things. Crystals, coated diamonds, and cube shapes. Most of its diamond production has medium and high white colors.
  • Angola (Africa) is known for its round diamonds of medium and yellowish colors. The production is of larger than average size, there are a lot of larger stones.
  • Last, comes South Africa. Their production is characterized by perfectly round diamonds in high white colors and qualities. They possess the most impressive stones. South Africa produces some amazing pink and blue diamonds.

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