There are is no shortage of diamond mines in the world at the moment, but the 50 largest mines around the globe account for approximately 90% of all diamonds mined.
Diamond mines can be “sized” according to a number of factors – surface diameter, amount of diamonds produced or estimated reserves.
In the first part of our 2-part series, we’ll be looking at the first 4 diamond mines according to measurable reserves.
10. Botuobinskaya, Russia (estimated reserves 69.3 million carats)
Russian mines feature prominently on this Top 10 list and Botuobinskaya is one of the newest mines to open in Russia, with production starting in 2015. Situated in the famous Yakutia diamond region of Russia, this was the first major mine discovered in this area in over 10 years. Operated by ALROSA, Botuobinskaya is expected to operate for 30 years.
9. Venetia, South Africa (estimated reserves 71.8 million carats)
The only South African diamond mine to feature on this list, but the first of several Southern African mines, Venetia is diamond giant De Beers’ only significant South African operation. Discovered in 1980, production at Venetia only started in 1992 when it was officially opened by Harry Oppenheimer. By 2021, the diamond-bearing ore at the current Venetia Mine is expected to be depleted but construction is currently underway to develop an underground mine beneath the current open-cast pit. Expectations are that this could extend the life of mine to 2043.
8. Grib, Russia (estimated reserves 91. 5 million carats)
Not only is Grib a significant diamond resource, it is the only Russian diamond mine on this list not owned by ALROSA. Grib was sold in December 2016 for a staggering $1.5bn, from previous owners Lukoil to new owners Otkritie Holding, a Russian investment group. Located in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, production at Grib started in September 2014.
7. Argyle, Australia (estimated reserves 93.1 million carats)
If we were to list diamond mines according to volume produced, Argyle, Western Australia’s giant mine, would top the list. Argyle has been the largest producer of diamonds in history and is the world’s most famous resource for fancy pink diamonds. Unique in that it’s the only lamproite diamond mine in the world (all other diamond mines are kimberlite), Argyle produces a very low proportion of gem-quality diamonds. Owned by Rio Tinto, Argyle is set to close by 2020.
6. Mir (Mirny), Russia (estimated reserves 97.4 million carats)
The Mir diamond mine, although now inactive, is notable for many reasons. After Bingham Canyon Mine (a copper mine in Utah, USA), it is the second largest excavated hole in the world, and is the world’s largest open pit diamond mine. Discovered in 1955, Mir was the first developed Russian diamond mine and during the 1960’s was producing up to 10 million carats of diamonds a year. In 2004, Mir was permanently closed.