How are Diamonds Mined | GemTrove

 

Diamond Mining

 

Diamond mining has come a long way since the early days of panning along the side of riverbanks. It is now a complex process, one which seeks to go right to the source of where diamonds are formed. In the present day, diamond sourcing companies will mainly use two different methods of diamond mining: Pipe mining, and alluvial mining.

Pipe mining

Pipe mining involves extracting the diamonds from the source of their formation. Large quantities of ore are removed from volcanic pipes, with the amount being relative to the number of diamonds sourced. On average, 250 tonnes of ore is removed to produce a one-carat diamond. The material where the diamonds are normally found is called kimberlite, named after the famous South African mining town of the same name.

Kimberlite can be found both on the earth’s surface, as well as further down these volcanic pipes. Several tunnels are needed to reach these pipes, where extraction of the kimberlite can be conducted right on the edges of the shafts created. Any rocks that contain diamonds are then brought to the surface for immediate transportation to a screening plant. It is here where the rough diamond is removed from the rock.

Alluvial mining

Alluvial mining is an evolution of the traditional form of panning. It involves building walls against rough water or sea waves, then drifting sand through the water to slowly erode the rock and expose the stone. The sand used acts like an abrasive sieve, removing everything except the prized stone. Similar to pipe mining, any stone that is sourced from this method is taken to a screening plant, where it is removed from any remaining traces of kimberlite.

Diamond mining in Australia

Australia is renowned across the world as a great source of diamonds. The Argyle Mine, of which the famed Argyle diamonds get their name, is the most well known of these. Located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, the mine is the first successful example of commercial mining from volcanic pipes. Construction of the mine began in the early 1980’s and was already the largest producer of diamonds by volume on earth at its completion.


The Argyle Mine has been reported to have produced 35 million carats worth of diamonds in the last decade. This amounts to roughly a third of the world’s supply. Some Argyle diamonds often showcase a light, pink hue, and are highly sought after for their unique beauty. Other well-known areas that are lucrative for miners include the Pilbara Region, Bathurst, and the Flinders Ranges, where similar mining methods have existed for many years.

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