Mining For Diamond

This is a picture of an open pit mine at the State Line
Kimberlite District in Colorado. Image taken from
Diamonds - American Museum of History.

Mining, the extracting of ore, can be broken down into a three step process with diamonds.  The first step is to extract the ore and two different practices are common in North America.  In Colorado at the State Line Kimberlite District, open pit mining is the best choice for extracting the kimberlite ore.  During this open pit mining, much of the ore is removed with land movers and shovels, loaded into trucks and carried to the processing area.  Open pit mining is also common in Canada, but another method is used as well, the block caving method.  During this process, columns are drilled down next to the pipe to the desired depth.  Next, tunnels are drilled into the kimberlite and lined with concrete with holes in it to catch the kimberlite as it is blasted (shown below).  The blasted ore falls into the tunnels and is transported to a crusher by way of a pulley system.  The ore is then transported from the crusher to the processing area. (Diamonds - American Museum of History)

Image taken from Diamonds - American Museum of History.

The second step of mining is to process the ore to seperate the diamonds from the rest of the ore.  The ore is put into a large funnel along with a heavy fluid and is then mixed, causeing a rotation in the fluid.  This process is much like panning for gold.  As diamonds are more dense than the surrounding material, they tend to sink while the rest of the material rises to the top and spills out.  According to the Natural Museum of History, "99 percent of the waste in ore is removed." (Diamonds - American Musuem of History)  To further seperate the remaining one percent of.waste, an X-ray diamond recovery machine is used.  This machine is used in the State Line Kimberlite District in Colorado. (McKenzie Bay International Ltd.)  The final step in mining is the seperation of diamonds into industrial grade and gemstone grade stones.  This can be done at the mine or at a diamond center.

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