1955: The Mir Mine – Largest Diamond Mine in the USSR

1955: The Mir Mine – Largest Diamond Mine in the USSR
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 13 June 1955
  • The Mir Mine in Siberia was producing 10,000,000 carats of diamond per year. A huge open pit was excavated, 1,200 meters in diameter and 525 meters deep, next to the city that was built around the mine. Today, the hole can be considered one of the Wonders of the World.

On this day in 1955, the first diamond-bearing deposits were discovered in Russia.

This discovery was made by geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina, and Viktor Avdeenko, who discovered traces of kimberlite in that area.

Specifically, kimberlite is a volcanic rock that is known to contain diamonds. It was named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where there are known deposits of diamonds.

The site of the mine was in Siberia, several hundred kilometers north of the famous Lake Baikal. The Soviets began mining in 1957.

Climatic conditions in that part of Siberia made mining extremely hard. During the winter, it was so cold that car tires and steel would shatter and oil would freeze. Apparently, they used jet engines to thaw permafrost (the permanently frozen layer of earth).

During the 1960s, the mine was producing as much as 10,000,000 carats of diamond per year, which is 2,000 kilograms. The mine was named “Mir Mine” and was the first and largest source of diamonds in the history of the USSR.

During the 44 years of excavations, they reached the depth of 525 meters. It resulted in a huge hole 1,200 meters in diameter. Today, it is the second largest excavated hole in the world (the Bingham Canyon Mine in the U.S. state of Utah is the largest).

Helicopters are not allowed to fly above this hole in Russia because the local air currents can pull them down (this rule was introduced after such accidents were recorded).

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