Diamonds will continue to fascinate human kind with their unique qualities and properties. Very few people have a clue of what to answer when it comes to the question: How are diamonds mined? Lengthy, expensive processes and equipments are involved in extracting the stones from the earth’s surface. Diamond mining combines engineering, science, art, patience and hard work.
How are diamonds mined? The type of mining method selected is dependent on how deep the diamond is located in the earth’s surface.
Open pit mining.
This is also known as the open cast method and is the most common method. A few factors like the strength of the rock and the type of equipment available are important to consider when choosing this method. In this method, layers of earth are etched and more layers are created immediately below them. The result is a large pit and round layers connected by roads. Careful geometrical precision has to be used to ensure correct width and height for safety and stability of the mine. Early stages of the mine are more flat and become steeper with each subsequent mining procedure. After excursion, the diamond rich material is brought to the surface for selection and sifting.
When the open pit becomes too steep, it becomes unsafe and unstable to continue mining using this method. It also become very expensive to continue mining using this method. This type of mining is also suitable for diamond that has already been brought near the earths surface by volcanic pipes. After diamonds are located, man made pipes and tunnels are constructed under careful precision. This method also encompasses two types of techniques; block cave mining and underground mining in tiers. Block cave entails blasting blocks of rock. The ore breaks and caves under its own weight. This is a less expensive method.
When volcanic activity happens deep within the sea, diamonds are brought closer to the surface.The miners wait for diamonds near the earth’s surface to be washed down the river beds and beaches. The diamonds are normally brought to the surface by erosion together with strong winds and waves. This was common in India between the 9th century BC and 19th century AD. Walls are built to hold back the soil and water in areas that have been found to have rich deposits of diamonds. The sand is then collected and taken to a processing plant where it is carefully sifted until the diamonds are found.
This is the newest technology in mining. It involves using vertical and horizontal methods are used to excavate the diamonds from the sea bed. A drill skull that has a diameter of about 7 meters is used to slash and suction the diamond rich material. It is pumped into the earth’s surface to recover the precious stone. Crawler like technology is used and a vacuum is created by use of compressed air. Before this technology was introduced, divers operated equipments were used but these could only go to a depth of about 30 meters.
This demystifies the question: How are diamonds mined before they get to your favorite store?