Famous Diamond Mines of the World

Diamonds are one of the rarest elements bestowed by nature. They emanate from only a handful of countries and sometimes only from a single mine in a country. Following is some background on some of the more famous diamond mines in the world. It does not include all the diamond mines in the world or even all the countries which produce diamonds.

Golconda - India

India was the first country to mine diamonds, and until diamonds were discovered in Brazil in 1730, was the world’s only known source of diamonds. The first known source of rough diamonds in India was the south central city of Golconda (known today as Hyderabad). Its stones are renowned for their transparency and purity, but colored diamonds have been discovered there as well, including highly prized blue and pink diamonds. Since the 1880s, the term ‘Golconda’ has been used as a generic term for the highest quality of diamonds.

Famous Golconda diamonds include the Darya-e Nur (182 carats), Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond (60 carats), Koh-i-noor(186 carats), the Hope Diamond (44 carats), the Regent Diamond (410 carats), and the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond (originally 35 carats).

Argyle - Perth Australia

The Argyle diamond mine, owned by the Rio Tinto Group, is located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is the world's largest single producer of diamonds, although most of these diamonds are not gem quality. However, among the bulk “industrial "diamonds produced, there's a tiny proportion of fancy color diamonds.

The name Argyle today has become synonymous with quality colored diamonds, in particular, its fancy pink diamonds. Over 90% of the world’s pink diamonds are sourced from the Argyle mine, although this ammounts to less than one tenth of 1% of the mine’s production. Other colored diamonds to emanate from Argyle include yellow diamonds, blue diamonds, green diamonds, and champagne (otherwise known as brown or cognac colored) diamonds.

The Argyle open pit has been fully exploited and its mining has now moved to a fully underground operation.

Botswana - South Africa

The Republic of Botswana is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Since the 1980s, it has been the world's largest producer of gem quality diamonds. There are four significant active diamonds mines in Botswana: Orapa, Lethlhakane, Damtshaa, and Jwaneng.

The Orapa mine is the largest diamond mine in the world by area, and production from its open pit began in 1971. Situated 50 kilometres from the Orapa mine is the Letlhakane mine, whose production started in 1975. The Damtshaa mine, located 20 kilometres east of the Orapa kimberlitic pipe, is a group of four small diamond pipes. It began operations in 2003. The Letlhakane and the Damtshaa mines are also managed from the Orapa mine.

The fourth mine is the Jwaneng mine, which is the richest diamond mine in the world when measured by value of recovered diamonds, and one of the largest diamond mines in the world per se. It began operations in 2002 and will produce at current levels until 2032.

All four mines are owned by Debswana, a partnership between the De Beers Company and the government of Botswana.
New economic diamond discoveries are even rarer than the diamonds they contain. Once a company actually makes an economic discovery, the lead time between discovery and production can take ten years. The mines currently producing are depleting and will eventually cease production, thus ensuring that diamonds will remain as rare in future years as they have always been - if not rarer.

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