Mir Diamond Mine

Mir Diamond Mine

June 13, 1955 - On this day a team of geolists trudged their way through the Siberian wilderness and discovered traces of a volcanic rock called kimberlite. This was a telltale sign that the area probably produced diamonds.

Due to its remote location and harsh weather conditions, 2 years would pass before excavation began. The ground is a rock-hard permafrost for most of the year, and in the summer months it turns to a muddy slush. Temperatures are so low in the winter that tires and steel beams have been known to shatter. Due to the challenging climate conditions, a whole new methodology of mining was developed. One tactic was to use jet engines to thaw the surface.

Over the 50 years the open-pit mine operated it became one of the largest manmade holes on earth. A truck starting at the rim of the mine would take 2 hours to reach the bottom. The massive gouge in the earth creates dangerous suction flows that have caused helicopters to crash. As a result, the airspace above the pit is now off limits.

At the peak of its production the mine produced 2 tons of diamonds a year.

The Swan King

The Swan King

First Gas Mask

First Gas Mask