World's largest diamond mine

[Image: The Mirny diamond mine; photographer unknown].

This diamond mine in eastern Siberia (Mirny, to be exact) is so deep that the surrounding "air zone... is closed for helicopters" after "a few accidents when they were 'sucked in' by downward air flow..."

[Images: Mirny diamond mine; photographers unknown].

Look for the tiny red arrow in the following photograph; it's pointing to a 220-ton rock-hauling truck more than 20' tall.

[Image: The Mirny diamond mine; photographer unknown].

Thanks to Javier Arbona for both the link and photos.

Meanwhile, something altogether different and Jules Vernian is about to occur thanks to some Japanese scientists hoping to drill down into the earth's mantle: "Using a giant drill ship launched [in July 2005], the researchers aim to be the first to punch a hole through the rocky crust that covers our planet and to reach the mantle below."

Then, in an oddly Borgesian—or perhaps MC Escherian—moment of nomenclatural mise-en-abîme, "The 57,500-tonne drill ship Chikyu (Japanese for Earth) is being prepared in the southern port of Nagasaki. Two-thirds the length of the Titanic, it is fitted with technology borrowed from the oil industry that will allow it to bore through 7,000 metres of crust below the seabed while floating in 2,500 metres of water—requiring a drill pipe 25 times the height of the Empire State building."

Let's repeat the: the drill-ship is called Earth and it is drilling down into the Earth... The attack of the simulacra begins.

[See also: Mirny Mine, pt. 2 and Bingham Pit, Utah].

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66 Comments:

Anonymous Nick Manion said...

Trying to find this amazing mine in Google Earth, I discovered the mine is actually in Mirny (or Mirnyj), Russia, not South Africa as you wrote. Great post otherwise, though.

August 19, 2005 3:57 AM  
Anonymous Anne Ritter said...

The size of this mine is hard to grasp - and the fact that it creates its own wind drafts is amazing -

August 20, 2005 8:37 AM  
Anonymous the gaucho said...

It is a mine of truly amazing scope, but isn´t it also quite dangerous to be boring holes through the earth´s crust? Or am I the only one to think so?

October 17, 2005 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not such a big hole - plenty of old underground mines would be more impressive if we could see them.

drilling into the mantle is only a problem if you hit a hot spot - but if you were drilling into a hot spot there would already be a volcanoe there. Mantle rock would cool long before it reached the surface - thus blocking the very narrow drill hole - usually much less than a metre across

October 18, 2005 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worms in my garden that make holes like that

November 29, 2005 8:44 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

You should sell them to the Russian mining industry.

November 29, 2005 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think so. This isn't the biggest, the deepest... mine in the world. If you are looking for the deepest, look for the Mponeng Gold Mine: 3777 mts depth. If you're looking for the bigger, then you must see the BINGHAM CANYON COPPER MINE, UT, USA. This is the second bigger manmade excavation in the world. (First are the Panama Channel)

December 25, 2005 2:23 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

The Bingham Pit is actually mentioned in the above post (see last little phrase up there). But thanks for the tip on Mponeng.

December 27, 2005 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the world's largest diamond mine, not the world's largest mine.

December 29, 2005 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little destructive....

January 20, 2006 3:42 PM  
Anonymous James Coats, London, UK. said...

Can we get a concensus on what the largest man made hole is by volume, whether it is a mine or canal? and what is the total volume that has been excavated? Many Thanks

February 13, 2006 11:23 AM  
Anonymous dragishak said...

Here is Google map

February 26, 2006 8:54 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Hey, thanks - Good to see -

And, James... I have no idea. Panama Canal by volume? Suez? The future Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility? I don't know.

February 28, 2006 11:57 PM  
Anonymous James Coats said...

Many thanks for your comments , i believe we have an answer...Rio Tinto's copper mine in Bingham Canyon Utah wins hands down if my calcs are correct. @ 6.7KM^3 vs Mirny @ 0.3KM^3 http://www.rockhounds.com/rockgem/articles/bingham_canyon.html

happy hunting.

March 21, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger TimothyPilgrim said...

Having been to Bingham Canyon Mine myself, I can attest that it's a pretty big hole. I visited there in 1998 with my senior year earth sciences class from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. I don't have any photos online, but here is the Google Maps link to the mine. Salt Lake City is to the northeast of the mine and the Bonneville Salt Flats are out to the west.

April 04, 2006 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

N62°31'41.95" E113°59'35.85"

May 29, 2006 4:17 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

I have never seen such a mine before. We should have travel there seeing it.
Great photos!

July 05, 2006 5:10 AM  
Anonymous JRR said...

I should be so lucky to have such a mine! :-)
I like it....

July 05, 2006 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Iadv said...

I had a look to the history of Mirny. It is very interesting. Thank you for this information.

July 05, 2006 5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kimberley diamond mine is the biggest MAN MADE hole( dug out with picks and shovels)not machines

July 25, 2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Adriano Vieira said...

cool! i saw this in national geographic channel

July 26, 2006 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Lys said...

Wonder if the vortex created is also affecting time/space/consciousness? Do we really have any idea what we do? Or are being 'manipulated' to do? Lys

July 27, 2006 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like holes... They are fun :)

July 27, 2006 8:50 PM  
Anonymous KS said...

The largest open-pit mine hole in the world is in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia... About 5 Hours from Perth.
Its a gold mine

August 01, 2006 3:37 AM  
Blogger zito said...

yeah it's a big mine..........BIG DEAL you people are losers talking about a freakin mine

August 06, 2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone loves a nice hole

August 17, 2006 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah is two-and-a-half miles wide and half a mile deep.

So, it is about 2 times the size of the one here.

August 17, 2006 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

suprise.. suprise... the americans think they always have the biggest !

September 07, 2006 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans do have the biggest!... egos ... butts ... etc

This is a fantastic hole though. Just goes to show what a lot of digging can actually achieve.

September 25, 2006 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I'm doing an informative speech on this if anyone has some insormation on it lets see it

October 01, 2006 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we worry about the "OZONE LAYER?"

October 26, 2006 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with that so what its a big hole

November 03, 2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

saying that its just bg holei thnk it very mpresive that man can do this mind i wouldnt like to drive the truck down and then breake down half way . it would be some hike back.lol

November 03, 2006 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am reading a book by a man called Terry Walters who claims he can telepathically travel with and talk to aliens from the Orion nebular...any way, he also claims that the aliens took him to Yakutsk in Russia to warn him that the mining for diamonds is dangerous. He says that they get them out using explosions, and that if they carry on, they could wipe Asia off the map, or even tilt the world off its axis...now this all seems highly ridiculous to me...any one got any information or comments about this...?

December 05, 2006 2:22 PM  
Anonymous o3e said...

WoOoW

beautiful!

January 15, 2007 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old Palabora open pit mine is bigger. 2 km across. They stopped open pit operation and are continuing as an underground operation.
http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/palabora/palabora2.html

January 30, 2007 2:10 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Palabora is a copper mine, no?

This is the "world's largest diamond mine."

January 30, 2007 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Kent/ mrwinwin@yahoo.com said...

Here's an idea: Put about 3000 wind turbines around the edge of the hole, plus thousands more running down the inside of the hole, and generate gigawatts of free power from the hole's huge downdraft! Then those helicopters wouldn't have crashed in vain.

February 06, 2007 2:25 AM  
Anonymous Kent/mrwinwin said...

Lame joke of the day:

Did they make any money with this mine, or are they in the hole?

February 06, 2007 2:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ass wholes

February 08, 2007 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As if we humans haven't done enough damage to this world, now we are drilling into the Earths mantle ! What could be the advantage of this ? I truely believe that the day will come when Mother Nature will wipe us all out for our foolish attacks on her.

March 31, 2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger Darby said...

That second photo is unreal. Looks like something out of a dream.

May 03, 2007 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes this one so impressive is the aspect ratio. The Bingham pit is shallow relative to its diameter.

May 03, 2007 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In soviet russia, the diamonds mine you!

May 03, 2007 5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice, that if it's closed to helicopters, why is there an airport with the runway running right into the airspace of the mine?

May 03, 2007 11:29 AM  
Blogger socióblogo said...

You should see Chuquicamata, a chilean copper mine in the middle of the desert.
Link

May 03, 2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To whomever thinks that humans have drilled into the Mantle: The Earth's crust is generally 10km thick in the middle of the ocean, and 30km thick on land. These mines are only 2km deep (max), and the deepest hole (~3" wide) drilled into the earth was ~7km deep (drilled on land, so it was less than 1/3rd the thickness of the crust). We will likely NEVER be able to drill into the mantle...

May 03, 2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Soviets drilled into the mantle at the Kola Superdeep Borehole. They started in 1960 and when drilling stopped in 1994, the 9 inch wide hole was over seven miles deep (12,262 meters), making it by far the deepest hole ever drilled by humankind. The last of the cores to be plucked from from the borehole were dated to be about 2.7 billion years old. They only stopped because the rock was more like plastic at that depth. See www.damninteresting.com/?p=567

May 03, 2007 2:16 PM  
Anonymous annerose said...

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

June 09, 2007 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Garrett said...

Just to clarify something that doesn't appear to have come up in the comments yet - the Mirny (sometimes transliterated "Mirnyy")diamond mine is 1,200 meters across, not deep. It is 525 meters deep, which makes it far from the deepest mine in the world. What it is is the world's largest open pit mine (by a fair bit), now no longer in use.

June 23, 2007 2:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

type in "Mirny, Eastern Siberia" in google earth.

August 15, 2007 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its funny how this people thinks they should make a competition on who goes the deepest anyway there must be an effect on this

October 11, 2007 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a controlled nuclear atom bomb explosion and we can go further across the largest mine in the world in a shortest span of time.

Or if a comet / any alien piece comes across and strikes on earth the hole can be a bigger one.

October 16, 2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! now thats what i call a huge hole. ive never seen anything like it, and probably never will.

November 26, 2007 12:54 AM  
Anonymous JAC said...

Here's a great video showing how diamonds are cut.

http://www.eurostardiamond.com/diamonds/index.html

December 04, 2007 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, the last time i saw a hole like that was in my wallet...

December 20, 2007 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like holes too. but what i like even more is stickin them. ;P

February 28, 2008 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This diamond mine is in fact located in South Africa but people must realize that although it only 1200 metres deep, it was completly dug out by men because it is man-made. There were no machines used because they hadn't been invented yet around the 1800's when it was first dug out.

I aslo dont think that Japan is doing the right thing with using a machine to dig down through the earth's crust because it is very dangerous. In South Africa were the diamond mine is located the earth around it is crumbling and falling in making surrounding buildings and roads is danger of crumbling into the hole at some point in the near future. The roads around it have already been closed due to this problem. Even if the government had the money to fix the roads it is too late to stop this problem.

February 29, 2008 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our company just started up a high angle conveyor in a diamond mine in Canada. It's an amazing project considering the frozen ground and the need to leave a very small footprint which we were able to accomplish. Canada is about to break the diamond mining industry wide open. So much so that the government even passed a kind of extra tax to get apart of the profit.
www.dossantosintl.com

March 24, 2008 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone for ONE-Hole Golf?

April 19, 2008 2:04 PM  
Blogger leesaricci said...

I grew up next to the Bingham Canyon Mine - the biggest mine in the world - and I didn't even know it until I read this blog.

June 02, 2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world's largest diamond mine is in Botswana- Orapa to be specific.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orapa_diamond_mine

June 10, 2008 10:08 PM  
Blogger mohd said...

this is very much small,i have 100 times bigger mines in my friend's(taqui)bath room.

January 11, 2009 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is huge can anyone tell me how much sand has been evacuated?

February 23, 2009 2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy schist!
thats a big hole.

March 27, 2009 9:56 AM  
Blogger deerie65775 said...

Where did they put all the dirt from that hole????

February 04, 2012 12:46 AM  

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