Diamonds are allegedly a girl’s best friend, and certainly, no engagement would go down well without one. Despite their price and the struggles that go into sourcing the perfect style, colour and cut, we as consumers, remain largely unaware of the large processes that go on behind the scenes in order to mine and manufacture these shiny beauties.
Processes, Systems and Mechanisms
I grew up with a mechanical engineer as a father and one of his greatest feats was being a part of the Letseng Diamond Mine in Lesotho. For years he made trips back and forth to Lesotho, always trying to explain to my mother and I just how many machines, processes and access control implementations actually worked together in order to keep the plant running smoothly. Of all the projects he had worked on (including a cashew nut plant or two and various plants in Russia and Tanzania) the diamond plant remained his favourite.
For mining production processes, several systems need to be in place. Firstly, there needs to be resources in order to begin mining that actually yields results. After mining, treatment and recovery are the next phases. As per Letšeng’s website, their diamond production involves ‘open-pit mining techniques on a split shell design.’ What’s interesting is the purpose of the split shell concept – it was designed and adopted so that waste-stripping could be optimized whilst simultaneously augmenting cash flow.
The Biggest Diamond Mines in the World
Five of the biggest diamond plants and mines in the world, as per ‘Mining Technology’, include Jubilee (Russia), Udachny (Russia), Mir (Russia), Argyle (Australia) and Catoca (Angola). They have earned these positions based on their measurable reserves – no doubt largely successful to the mining optimization brought about through the expertise of their engineers and mining consulting companies.
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