They say a diamond is forever, but what about a diamond mine? We take a look at the lasting legacies they leave behind, starting with a fox’s tale that unfolds deep in the heart of Siberia leading to diamonds, magic and conservation
Once upon a time in Siberia, two female geologists were hunting in the snowy wilderness for diamond deposits. Unable to find them, they spotted a fox whose lair lay by the roots of a fallen larch tree. Drawn to the blue glow around the earth where the fox was nesting, they discovered a kimberlite pipe, whose natural blue mineral structure is nature’s way of telling us that diamonds are very close by.
Believe it or not this isn’t a fairy tale. These events really happened in 1955, leading to the discovery of the Mirny diamond deposit, which in turn gave birth to the diamond industry of Yakutia. And what is more important, is that for the next sixty years of development this vast region saw the creation of cities from nothing, including the “diamond capital” of Mirny, with hospitals, schools and a conservation park spanning more than 79,000 acres – equivalent to 32 sports stadiums. This park, called the Living Diamonds of Yakutia, is funded by ALROSA to protect nature, becoming a haven for wild foxes – some of which could have descended from their kimberlite-dwelling ancestors – as well as tusk oxen, reindeers, bears and wild Yakut horses.
The Living Diamonds of Yakutia is testament to the fact that for the world’s major diamond producers, planning to open a mine is about much more than just extracting diamonds, it’s about sustainable development and environmental stewardship.
This has led to more than 643,000 acres of wilderness being protected by seven natural diamond companies – ALROSA, Petra Diamond, De Beers Group, RZM Murowa, Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, Rio Tinto and Lucara Diamond – across their global footprint.
Before a proposal to open a diamond mine is even put forward, rigorous research and planning to prepare for the mine’s closure is undertaken; subject to strict requirements from local authorities and communities.