Our first blog post saw us listing the bottom 5 of the World’s Top 10 diamond mines. We continue where we left off with our countdown, moving from position 5 to the top mine. Can you guess where it’s located?
5. Udachny (Udachnaya), Russia (estimated reserves 108 million carats)
Discovered a mere two days after Mir, Udachny became ALROSA’s largest open pit and mining started in 1967. Since then Udachny has yielded over $80 billion worth of diamonds. In 2015, mining at Udachny switched from open-pit to underground, and the new underground operations are expected to yield 5 million carats a year by 2019.
4. Catoca, Angola (estimated reserves 110 million carats)
Catoca is Angola’s largest diamond mine and was discovered by artisanal diamond diggers in 1965. Owned by a consortium of international mining interests (including Angolan, Russian and Brazilian interests), Catoca began production in 1997. Last year, Catoca produced an estimated 6.5 million carats, accounting for 70% of Angola’s total diamond production. The current open-plan mine lifespan runs to 2034 at which stage underground mining is planned.
3. Jubilee, Russia (estimated reserves 125.4 million carats)
Located in Yakutia, the same region as Mir and Grib, Jubilee was at one stage the largest diamond mine in the world. Diamond production started in 1986 and the mine produced an estimated 125.4 million carats of diamonds in 2015. Owned by Aikhal Mining and ALROSA, Jubilee is the most prolific diamond mine in Russia.
2. Jwaneng, Botswana (estimated reserves 149.1 million carats)
Owned by Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswanan government, Jwaneng was the world’s most valuable diamond producer in 2015. Located 160km south of the capital city Gaberone, open-pit operations began in 1986 and current annual diamond production is around 11 million carats per annum. Based on the value of recovered diamonds, Jwaneng is the richest diamond mine in the world and is a gem in the De Beers crown. Current life expectancy of the mine runs until 2028.
1. Orapa, Botswana (estimated reserves 151.4 million carats)
Orapa adds the second sparkle to the De Beers crown, alongside Jwaneng, and is located in central Botswana. Orapa is the oldest of the 4 Debswana mines and produced and estimated 12 million carats in 2015. Discovered in the 1960’s, production started in 1971 and the mine still functions as an open-cast pit and peak production occurred in 2006 when 17.3 million carats were extracted.
As you can imagine, these 10 mines easily account for approximately 50% of global diamond supply. Most of these mines have been operating for decades, and global exploration for new resources is an on-going activity. De Beers have opened their most recent diamond mine in Canada, in the country’s North West Territories, and Gahcho Kué, as it is known, is estimated to be one of the world’s 10 biggest diamond mines. Time will tell, but for the mean-time, Africa, Europe and Australia hold the balance of diamond reserves.