Diamonds are precious stones that seem to intrigue human beings from the moment they were discovered. They possess exceptional properties.
Diamonds are very expensive, and they represent many things. They symbolize wealth and can have emotional meaning amid individuals.
The demand for this precious stone will remain high as long as people are getting married and want to look elegant, classy and beautiful.
In spite of their reputation, very few people are aware of the long and pricey methods used to bring the gems close to home before they ever make it to a BlueNile type store or local jewelry shop.
There are three basic types of mining used to mine diamonds:
- Open-Pit Mining
Open pit mining is the great mining method used today, it is initiated from the surface of the earth and remains exposed to the surface all through the extraction process.
The excavation typically has raised sides to make sure the miners are safe and also a large ramp where the mining machine can pass through, permitting diamonds to be extracted from the location.
Open-pit mining is used when the stones are located near the surface.
The Advantages of open-pit mining are:
– The production is quite fast
– Superior shovels and trucks are used to shift large capacity rocks
– Lower grades of the mineral are mined economically due to lower mining cost
– The types of equipment used are not limited to the available size of the opening.
- Underground Mining
Underground mining is used to mine diamonds underneath the earth’s surface in a safe, economical manner with little or no wastage.
The entrance from the earth’s surface to a mine that is underground can be done either via a vertical or a horizontal tunnel referred as shaft or decline.
Underground mining is useful when:
– The quality or grade of the mineral is high enough to cater for the costs.
– Underground mining has a lesser ground track compared to open pit mining
– The diamonds are way too deep to mine using the open pit method.
The methods comprised in underground mining include narrow vein stopping, large-scale mechanical mining and room and pillar. Let’s discuss large- scale mechanized mining method because among the three methods it is the one used in diamond mining.
Large Scale Mechanized Mining Methods Used
Longwall mining- It is where a long wall of minerals is mined in just one slice, and it is done by a big machine.
Sub-Level-Caving- Levels of minerals are blasted with the use of explosives.
Block caving- In this method large sections of the gems are blasted and then extracted with the help of gravity.
The above three methods of underground mining are used to mine diamonds, copper, and even coal.
- Underwater Mining
It is also called marine mining. It involves the mining of diamonds from the sea floors, several meters under water. In the past, a swimmer would swim collecting the gems from the shallow waters, but with the technology advancement, underwater mining is done using specially designed ships.
The ship can use a powerful crawler that collects gravel on the sea floor using flexible pipes. On the other hand, an underwater vehicle or a large scale drill –operated remotely- can be used at depths of 100-140 meters beneath the sea level.
Refueling is done at sea, and fresh water is generated on the ship.
Mining of diamonds requires much effort and time, and it is very expensive. Over the years, the extraction methods have improved regarding efficiency and safety, which makes these rare stones to become astonishingly available.
The next time you look at a diamond, bear in mind that without the art of mining you cannot have the chance to see the gem glitter.