Mirny Diamond Mine Mirny Diamond Mine

Mirny Diamond Mine

Mir Mine, also called Mirny Mine is one of the most impressive places on Earth and it is located near a small town known as Mirna, in Eastern Siberia. It was the first and the largest diamond mine in the Soviet Union. The mine is 525 meters deep, has a diameter of 1,200 meters and is the second largest excavated hole in the world, after Bingham Canyon Mine. It is so big that it takes trucks close to 2 hours to drive from the bottom to the top. The airspace above the mine is closed for helicopters because of a few incidents in which they were sucked in by the downward air flow.
It was discovered in 1955 by three Soviet geologists - Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina and V.Avdeenko during the large Amakinsky Expedition in Yakut ASSR. For this discovery, in 1957 Khabardin was given the Lenin Prize, which was one of the highest awards in the Soviet Union. They found traces of the volcanic rock kimberlite, named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa where the diamond rush began in late 19th century. They surely knew that the rock sometimes contains diamonds.
The development of the mine had started in 1957 in extremely heavy climate conditions. Seven months of winter per year froze the ground into permafrost, which was hard in winter, but turned into sludge in summer. Buildings had to be raised on piles, so that they would not sink in summer, and the main processing plant had to be built on a better ground found 20 km away from the mine. The winter temperatures were so low that car tires and steel would shatter and oil would freeze. During the winter, the workers used jet engines to defreeze and dig out the permafrost or blasted it with dynamite to get access to the underlying kimberlite. The entire mine had to be covered at night to prevent the machinery from freezing.
In the 1960s the mine was producing 2,000 kg of diamonds per year, but the production rate slowed to 400 kg per year near the pit bottom. The largest diamond found in the mine was found in 1980 and weighed 342.5 carats. Mirny Diamond Mine was operated for almost 50 years, in June 2001 it was closed. After the collapse of the USSR, in the 1990s, the mine was operated by the Sakha diamond company, which reported annual profits in excess of $600 million from diamond sales. Nowadays it is operated by the largest diamond producing company in Russia called Alrosa.
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