How Are Diamonds Mined And Processed?

diamonds mined

Although your search for a natural diamond may begin with a trusted. Online retailer or in a velvet lined glass case, diamonds come from—or are accurately mined from—a source much closer to Earth. About 100 miles underground, heat, and pressure from the Earth crystallize carbon into rough diamonds. But how are diamonds mined so that they get from the Earth to your diamond ring?

A specific type of volcanic eruption, the kimberlite eruption, brings Kimberlite. A diamond-containing igneous rock, closer to the Earth’s surface—with the recent explosion occurring over 100 million years ago. Kimberlite is commonly found in kimberlite pipes—vertical structures in the Earth’s crust and diamonds are mined from Kimberlite.

Southern Africa accounts for a more significant percentage of the world’s gem-quality diamond production. Approximately 13 million carats of diamonds are mined annually, with a total value of almost US $9billion.

How many methods of diamond mining?

There are three main types of diamond mining:

  1. Pipe mining (primary deposits)
  2. Alluvial mining (secondary deposits)
  3. Marine mining

1. Diamond Pipe Mining – Open Ground | Underground

Open-pit mining, such as the Kimberley Big Hole, involves removing the layers of rock and sand found only above the Kimberlite. The ore in the pit is then break up by blasting, and once this ore is a break. It is load and then transported to a primary ore crusher. Where the diamond extractor process begins.

diamond pipe mining

There are two types of pipe mining, such as open-pit mining and underground mining.

Open-pit mining

Open-pit mining involves removing the layers of sand and rock found only above the Kimberlite. Once exposed, the ore in the pit is break up by blasting, and a single blast can break approx. 3,000 tonnes of ore.

Once the ore is broken, excavators load the ore into haul trucks. And transport them to the main ore crusher where the diamond extracting process begins. The Kimberley Big Hole is the best example of open-pit mining.

Underground mining

Miners tunnel through Earth’s crust to the kimberlite pipe, and tunnels are constructing in two levels, one above the other with funnels built to connect the two.

Mining begins on the top level by blasting ore, which falls through the funnels and store on the second tunnel. Here, loaders store the broken ore and bring back to the surface for processing.

2.Alluvial mining (secondary deposits)

Over thousands of years, the kimberlite pipe that reaches the Earth’s surface eroded. And weathered by wind, rain, rivers, and streams, and the eroded Kimberlite bears rough diamonds, which carried downstream. The first diamonds discovered in South Africa from alluvial deposits.

alluvial diamond mining

Today, industrial alluvial mining involves building a large wall to store the water in one area. Diamonds are often found in the gravel layer, which collects under layers of other material namely, mud, clay, and underwater plant-life. Once the gravel is collected, it’s hauled to the surface and prepared for processing.

3.Marine mining

Marine mining includes extricating precious stones from the seabed, hundreds of meters underwater. And the earlier form of marine mining involved shore diving. Where a swimmer has to collect diamond-bearing concrete from the shallow seabed.

marine diamond mining

Today technology has evolved to very specialized ships that mine for diamonds deep out at sea. These ships use a powerful crawler that sucks gravel on the seabed up through very flexible hoses/pipes. Alternatively, they use a massive scale drill mounted to the ship to dig diamonds.

The process of ore to extract rough diamonds

Stage 1 – Crushing

Once the diamond-bearing ore and concrete are collect, it is transported to a primary crusher. The primary crusher is responsible for reducing the size of the ore into smaller. Most manageable pieces or chucks measuring no larger than 150mm.

A secondary crusher, called a roll-crusher, may also use to reduce the size of the ore even further.

Stage 2 – Scrubbing

In this stage, the ore is scrub to remove loose excess material and is the screen. And material smaller than 1.5mm is discarding because it is too costly to extract diamonds from such a small piece of ore.

Stage 3 – Cyclonic separation plant

In this stage, the diamond-bearing ore is mix with a solution of ferrosilicon powder and water, which is a measure to a specific relative density.

This solution is fed into a cyclone, which tumbles the material and forces a separation and materials with a high-density sink to the bottom. Which results in a layer of diamond-rich concentrate.

Stage 4 – Recovery

The diamond’s rich concentration is put through a series of processes involving magnetic susceptibility. An X-ray luminescence, and crystallographic laser fluorescence that is calculated based on the specific properties of diamonds.

These processes are designed to separate the rough diamond from any other heavy density materials stored by the cyclonic separation plant. For example, the diamond’s fluorescence when exposed to an X-ray. Sensors detect flashes of light emitted by the diamond. And send a signal to a microprocessor that fires a blast of air at the diamond, which spits it into a collection box.

Stage 5 – Cleaned, weighed, and packaged

Diamonds collected in the recovery process are clean in an acid solution, washed, weighed, and packed in sealed containers for transport.

Accordance with the Kimberley process, these containers are seal with a tamper-resistant seal, numbered on site, and a certificate of origin is an issue.

Conclusion

Diamonds are one of the most unique minerals to be a gift on Earth. With their unimaginable hardness and unequaled shine, diamonds have created their way to not only the highest of industries however top of consumer markets.

But while they’ll be a pleasant luxury to enjoy for some, many steps of their journey to jewelry leads to negative impacts within the environment and society. As additional attention is brought to these problems, one will only hope that additional light is going to be shed on how to fix these issues and leave a brighter future for not only the diamonds but this planet.

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