The Mirny Diamond Mine: Russia’s Aircraft-Sucking Mega Hole

The Mir Mine, popularly called the Mirny Mine, is a formerly active open-pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia, that at its operational peak produced over 10 million carats of diamonds per year. Some people also refer to this mine as the Navel of the Earth.  With a depth of about 1,722 ft and a diameter of about 3,900 feet, the Mirny Diamond Mine holds the fourth position for depth among the world’s open pit mines. The Mirny mine also holds the title of the second largest excavated hole in the world (Bingham Canyon Mineis #1). The airspace over this mine is closed for flying because there have been reported incidents of helicopters being sucked in by the airflow. This phenomenon occurs because the size of the Mirny diamond mine often causes the nearby atmosphere to have drastically different temperatures and current flows.

Revelation of the natural wonder

The search for diamonds in the USSR began out of Stalin’s desire to make the USSR a more independent economy. After WWII, the USSR required large quantities of industrial diamonds to support the reconstruction of the country. Ekaterina Elagina, Uri Khabardin and Viktor Avdeenko were the geniuses behind the discovery of the diamond deposits back in 1955. All three of these individuals were geologists from the Soviet Union during the Amakinsky Expedition. Their expedition was the first in the history of the Soviet Union to successfully find Kimberlite – a volcanic rock associated with the existence of diamonds.  For their discovery, the scientists were awarded the Lenin Prize – a prize similar in honor to the modern-day Nobel Prize.

Mirny Diamond Mine Development

Siberia has quite harsh weather conditions. The summer lasts in Siberia for a very short time, whereas the snowy winter last for about 7 months. When the development of this mine started way back in 1957 it was covered with snow. This made mining very difficult. Jet engines were used for thawing and digging out the permafrost. Dynamite was also used for digging out the Kimberlite. The mining required immense efforts on part of the workers and the mine was usually covered at night. The prime objective was to prevent the machinery from getting frozen.

Revealing the beautiful diamonds

The Mirny diamond mine was able to generate about 2000 kg of diamonds per year. The best quality diamond content was present in the upper layers of the pit. where the diamond content was about 4 carats per tonne. The content quality of the diamonds declined towards the end of the pit and the yield was about 2 carats per tonne in the bottom layer. The high quality of diamond found in the Mirny diamond mine contributed to Russia’s status as the world’s third largest diamond producer.

Interesting facts about Mirny Diamond mine

The Mirny mine would become one of the biggest revenue sources for the Soviet Union, but for the DeBeers company, it would prove a worrying conundrum for decades. Prior to when Mirny began production, DeBeers enjoyed a monopoly in the diamond business since the turn of the 19th century. In order to keep prices high, the company was obligated to buy most of the gem-quality diamonds that the Mirny produced. From their previous experiences, De Beers geologists thought that the Mirny mine would begin to peak well before the end of the 1960s, so it was an incredible surprise to the entire world that the Soviet Union would continue producing increasing quality diamonds into the 1970s.

The Mirny Mine was permanently closed in 2011. Over it’s 54 year lifespan, the Mirny mine saw both open-pit and underground operations and commanded awe from the entire world. Today, the mine site as a giant scar in one of the most remote parts of the world. Visiting the site in the real world may not be the easiest of tasks, but with the wonders of Google Maps, you can tour the Mirny Mine right here:

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