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Diamond-Mining Centre of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)

The Open Pit "Mir"

[ Photo ]

Rumors began to appear at the beginning of the 19th century about the availability of precious stones on the territory of Yakutia and the western areas bordering it.

After the civil war, Starovatov P.K., a teacher of nature study in one of the settlements of Yakutia, met an old man in Kempendyai who told him that two years before he had found a small shining stone, the size of a match head, in a local river and sold it to a merchant who gave him a sack of groats, two bottles of alcohol and five packets of tea. Later, another old man told him about finding precious stones in the rivers Chona and Kempendyaika.

Purposeful search for diamonds on the Siberian platform started for the first time in 1947-1948, along the river Nizhnyaya and the river Podkamennaya Tungusska. In autumn 1948, a geologist party headed by Feinstein G.K. started prospecting on the rivers Chona and Vilyuy, and on August 7, 1949, they found the first diamond on a sandy spit named Sokolinnaya on the Vilyuy River. Further finds of more than 20 crystals revealed diamondiferous placer there. In 1950-1953, as the result of prospecting works, geological expeditions discovered a number of diamondiferous placers in Yakutia.

In August 1953, the geologist party Nº132 of the Amakinskaya expedition found the first diamond on the river Malaya Botuobiya. Next year, on August 21, 1954, Larisa Popugayeva with the worker Belikov F.A. discovered the first kimberlite pipe in the Soviet Union and named it "Zarnitsa".

On June 13, 1955, a geologist party with geologists Yelagina, Khabardin, Avdeyenko and some workers discovered a diamondiferous pipe, which turned out to be the largest with the richest grade of diamonds. They called the pipe "Mir", which means "Peace", and they sent a cryptic telegramme to headquarters: "Lit the peace-pipe, tobacco is excellent...".

The same year, other diamondiferous pipes were discovered in Yakutia, among them Udachnaya, Marshrutnaya, Sytykanskaya. 1955 was a very successful year for the geologists. 15 primary diamond deposits and several industrial diamond placers were discovered that year. The search for diamonds continued, and, by 1959, 120 kimberlite pipes were registered in Yakutia.

The pipe "Mir" is located closer to the transport artery of Yakutia ~ the river Lena ~ than the pipes Udachnaya, Sytykanskaya, Zarnitsa; that is why its exploration started straight after its discovery. In 1958, stripping works for the open pit "Mir" started. In a year, the first stationary benefication plant was launched, and the country received the first industrial diamonds from the pipe "Mir". In February 1959, a winter road from Ust' Kut to Mukhtuya (Lensk), with a length of 1000 km, started the transportation of equipment and supplies for Mirny. The same year, the Soviet Union sold the first load of Yakutian diamonds, a volume of 13,000 carats, on the world market.

Benefication plant Nº3 was launched into exploitation on October 21, 1966. It was the largest benefication plant for many years and is still in operation.

The mining of diamonds in Yakutia is a very complicated affair because of permafrost and subterranean mineralized water. The open pit "Mir" is a good illustration of such conditions.

Mining works in the pipe "Mir" are still performed by the open pit method, in limited volumes though, with simultaneous reconstruction of the pit for mining much deeper levels. At present the pit has the following parameters:

Depth of the pit:450 metres
Surface diameter:1100-1200 metres
Bottom diameter:310-160 metres
Volume of mined mass from the beginning of the pit's mining:165 mln. cubic metres
Inflow of underground mineralized water:150 cubic metres per hour
Length of the spiral road from the surface to the bottom:7.7 km
Project depth of mining by open pit method:525 metres
Explored depth of ore body occurrenceto 1200 metres

Besides the mining and the reconstruction of the open pit, preparatory works for future underground mining of diamonds in the pipe "Mir" are being carried out as well.

Copyright ©Mirny Lyceum-School 2002. All rights reserved.
Project by 11th Year Students of the Lyceum-School in Mirny
Project Supervisor: Maikova T. N.