Russian Diamond Field, Secret Until Now, Said to Contain ‘Trillions of Carats’
Christian Science Monitor reports that the deposit lies beneath an asteroid crater in Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem. The crater, 62 miles in diameter, was actually discovered by Russian scientists in the 1970s, but the information was classified until today.
According to the story in CSM and now being reported in several international news providers and mining publications, the Soviets decided to keep the discovery a secret because “the USSR’s huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market,” and the country had also invested heavily in synthetic diamonds.
Russian official news agency ITAR-Tass reports the diamonds at Popigai are “twice as hard” as usual gemstones, according to scientists at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The scientists also said the find ”would be enough for the entire world for 3,000 years.”
The news comes amid slumping prices for both rough and polished diamonds, and a fair amount of turmoil in the diamond market. Both BHP Billiton (LSE:BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO) have said they are restructuring their diamond businesses. In August luxury retailer Harry Winston was rumored to be interested in purchasing the Ekati diamond mine in northern Canada from BHP. Harry Winston owns a 40 percent stake in the Diavik mine operated by Rio Tinto in the same region as Ekati.