Forests, Wildlife

May 24, 2013

A Brief Introduction to Kimberlite and Alluvial Mining

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Kimberlite: A piece of rock formed from the Earth’s mantle that commonly contains pieces of diamonds, magnesium, titanium, chromium, nickel and other hard and/or valuable mineral deposits.

Origin of the Term “Kimberlite”: Named after Kimberley, a town in South Africa, where people have found the largest diamond deposit in a Kimberlite Pipe. The diamond is an 83.5 carat diamond and was discovered in 1871.

Many people who buy investment diamonds today scarcely wonder where they come from, as well as, how they were formed. Due to the diamond’s attractive nature, the way they are made and processed are overridden. Diamonds are made from a mixture of minerals, set at high pressures and temperatures strong enough to kill any living thing on Earth. It takes millions of years for a diamond to be created, yet it takes a shorter time to bring it to the exterior.

Researchers, who have studied diamond investing over years, have discovered that these diamonds are generally formed in the mantle of the Earth and are being shot up through volcanic explosions in areas which they commonly refer to as Kimberlite Volcanoes. Now the residues of these volcanic explosions, known as Kimberlites, are generally what miners try to get to because of their high content of diamond deposits. Kimberlite is generally found underground in a Kimberlite Pipe, which extends deep into the Earth’s crust. Commonly having a diameter that could fit more than ten Boeing 747 planes (more or less a kilometre), a Kimberlite Pipe is where miners start digging by hand or by machine. Conical in shape, the Kimberlite Pipe goes down deep into the Earth’s crust, occasionally reaching the mantle, where the Kimberlite was forged over time. Mining the cavernous rocks are dangerous, so the miners do not go far.

Alluvial Mining: A process wherein miners work through mud, gravel, rock, and sand, using simple tools and their bare hands, to find the investment grade diamonds from the Kimberlite, located inside the Kimberlite. The more preferred method of diamond mining is Alluvial, because of the job’s dangerous nature. Miners work daily and utilize a lot of hand tools in order to locate the diamonds to be brought into the market. There are however other processes that involve more complicated tools, which would be more likely to produce “gem quality” diamonds, which would essentially pose hazards as well as cost a lot of money to produce. For adornment and for machinery, diamonds can be used because of their beauty or their hardness respectively. Using the qualities of a diamond for categorization, people have generally categorized diamonds into two classifications; “gem quality” where they use it for decoration or jewellery, and “industrial quality” where they use it for machinery and industry. Alluvial Mining is better for “gem quality” diamonds and machine mining is better for “industrial quality” diamonds. The diamonds are then cleaned and removed of blemishes once the mining is complete, after which, they are distributed to the market.

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