Diamonds are mined in the most inhospitable areas of the Earth. They are located in the outback of Australia, the deserts of Africa, and the tundra of Russia and Canada. One of the reasons diamonds cost so much is the huge amount labor required to mine a small amount of product. For one point of diamond weight there is over 1,000 pounds of ore and rock processed.
The largest deposits of diamonds are brought to the earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions (also known as Primary Deposits). They are transported by magma that originated at great depths of 90-120 miles or deeper. This is more extreme that any kind of volcanic explosions than we have ever seen on our planet.
Secondary deposits are places were the diamonds were carried to the surface by erosion. These are smaller findings and not worth the investment of a large mining expedition.
Conflict Mining of Diamonds
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments. They are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments.
The Conflict diamond issue first emerged in the 1990’s. At that time, diamonds from the African countries of Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone were being mined and sold to finance civil wars. The media has drawn awareness to the conflict diamond issue, especially since the release of the movie, Blood Diamond, with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Rough diamonds are usually smuggled from these areas to more peaceful; neighbouring states and from there enter the international market. The profits often go back to support terrorist rebels. A Dec. 30, 2001, article in the Washington Post linked some trade in conflict diamonds in the Congo to the terrorist groups, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.
“Conflict diamonds generate about 2.5 percent of annual worldwide production,” says Jeffrey Harris, an earth scientist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and a scientific consultant to the giant South African diamond conglomerate De Beers. Other scientists give estimates of up to 4 percent.
The problem of conflict diamonds is huge. According to Global Witness, a London-based advocacy organization, an Angolan rebel army known as UNITA generated $3.7 billion over a six year period in the 1990s largely through trading in conflict diamonds. Global Witness estimates that total world diamond production in 1999 was worth $6.8 billion.
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