Want to follow the journey of a Russian diamond, from being dug out of the frozen ground in Siberia to selling for millions at the world’s biggest jewel auctions?

Let’s start here.  In 2018, Russia mined more than 43 million carats.

For comparison, the world’s second-largest producer by volume, Botswana, produced 24.3 million carats.

Alrosa is the world’s largest diamond miner by volume.

The Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, is a region in Siberia that’s five times the size of France but has only about a million inhabitants.

Alrosa operates 12 diamond mines, both underground and open-pit mines, 10 of which are in Yakutia. To create the mines, Alrosa must first scan for pipes of kimberlite ore, which is the ore that can contain diamonds. 

Once a pipe is found, explosives are detonated to remove some of the empty soil on the surface, which is then discarded in piles nearby.  Then come the excavators and trucks to haul out the soil and the kimberlite ore, which is what contains the diamonds.

Each excavator bucket holds about 30 tonnes — more than 66,000 pounds — of soil or ore, and one truck can be loaded up with three buckets full of soil, or more than 200,000 pounds.

At the Botuobinskaya open-pit mine, which I visited in Yakutia, about 60,000 metric tonnes — or more than 66,000 US tons — of soil and ore are extracted in a 24-hour period. Once an open-pit mine has been depleted, it’s typically turned into an underground mine and operations continue below the surface.  It takes a truck 40 minutes to take a round trip to the bottom of the mine and back.

Read more about the journey a Russian diamond makes, from mine to market on the Business Insiders website  HERE

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