The Mir diamond mine is a gigantic 1,200 meter diameter hole in the heart of Siberia
Sometimes the treasures are not hidden, but could not be more obvious. The open mining operations are impressive and the Mir mine (or Mirny), which became the largest in the world of its kind, it is not for less.
A open pit diamond mine located in Russia, specifically near the city of Mirny (Siberia), from which it takes its name. Although the open mine is now closed, its appearance and characteristics continue to impress and it was the largest and richest mine in the former Soviet Union.
What happened when in the USSR they believed that there could be a diamond
A taxi driver told us a while ago, when talking about the place where all the aspirins in the world are manufactured, that what reached his ears is that “the mining basins are fatal”, referring to the prosperous important that this exploitation has been for Asturias (Spain). But the fortune of the mines depends a lot on what is exploited in addition to the moment, and just as coal is no longer doing so well in Spain, gold is still of interest and diamonds, when found, too. And to open everything.
In 1953, the geologist Larissa Popugaieva, what studied mineral samples from the deposit in Yakutia (Siberia), observed a high concentration of the mineral garnet, a type of silicates that it is also associated with the presence of diamonds. Popugaieva became part of the Yakutia expedition, although at first the Soviets were not convinced to invest for the exploitation.
The push that would convince the Russians would come on June 13, 1955, when Soviet geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina and Viktor Avdeenko found kimberlita, an igneous rock known to sometimes host diamonds (at the depth, temperature, and pressure at which it formed, the most stable form for carbon is considered to be diamond, not granite). After finding this diamond in the rough (in this case, literally), Khabardin received a Lenin Prize for discovery (without there being honors for Popugaieva, coincidentally) and Stalin’s Soviet Union got down to work. The mine, in fact. It is called so because mirny in Russian it is peace, and when reporting the discovery of diamonds at the site, Khabardin said he was “smoking the pipe of peace.”
The mine opened in 1957, considerably fast considering the media of the time (at the time they had no a Bagger 288). Also thinking about The localization: Siberia is one of the most inhospitable lands inhabited by human beings, with winters lasting seven months to -39ºC (in Mirny), and as we saw when talking about Russki Island Bridge, extreme cold is not exactly an aid for construction work. And summer is no consolation either, when the permafrost turns to mud and the excavation area became a huge quagmire.
Taking out of big engines and dynamite, they got hold of the complicated soils and built the processing plant about 20 miles from the site (to avoid permafrost). Along with the mine the city also grew, so it is quite impressive to see how the urban area ended up at the very end of the excavation.
Mirny’s rapid development was apparently also motivated by carving out a niche among the world’s diamond mining powers, something that was at the time led by De Beers. About this, legend says that the company became concerned about this early growth of the mine and that it wanted to visit the mine, but that the Russians intentionally delayed the visit of Philip Oppenheimer, De Beers executive, and chief geologist Barry Hawthorne so that they only had 20 minutes to examine the farm.
The second largest excavated hole in the world
At its closure in 2001, the Mir mine had a depth of 518.16 meters and a diameter of 1,200 meters. It was the largest open diamond mine in the world, but over the years its position decreased and today it is also the Russian mine of Yubileyny, Russia, is the largest diamond mine in the world, although the Bingham Canyon Mine in Salt Lake City (United States) is the largest excavated hole on the planet and Mirny’s is at least second.
Nor does it beat the deepest mine in the world, which is the Tau Tona mine, nor to the deepest hole. Casually, the research hole that was carried out on the Kola Peninsula, in Russia, it reached 11 kilometers deep.
Despite this, the mine has been awarded the terrifying ability to “absorb helicopters” to the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, but evidently there is nothing magical or hidden in that great hole. What happens is that it is so big that the air it contains becomes very hot and rises, causing the area to have an abrupt change in temperature of air masses and the helicopters to destabilize when they lose control, so that sometimes the pilot has not reacted in time after the descent to regain altitude.
The Mir mine involved almost 50 years of exploitation operations that yielded some 2 million carats of diamonds a year, although this has not been officially confirmed. After its closure, it continued to be exploited underground for ALROSA, who claim that between 1957 and 2001 the mine produced some € 14 billion worth of rough diamond.
Image | Staselnik