Friday 10 April 2020

Diamonds from the ocean? Really?

Photo credit, Professional Jeweller

Did you know some natural diamonds don't come from mines? They all came from volcanos (which is pretty cool) but have been discovered in many hiding places.

Those which lodged in their volcano's throat or remained in the volcanic pipes are called "primary deposits." They are mined using heavy earth-moving and crushing equipment.

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But not all diamonds stayed there. 

Some were blown clear of their volcanos and transported away by magma flows. Others were unearthed and transported away by ice-ages, rain and erosion over millions and millions of years. These diamonds are "secondary deposits." They are frequently found in remote locations where rivers now exist or used to exist. They are mined using light equipment, sieves and rockers.

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Meanwhile, under the ocean -

There is one diamond-rich area where a steady stream of rough crystals have tumbled down the Orange and Vaal Rivers to the sea for millions of years. Distributed far and wide along the coast by tidal activity, millions of carats now lie hidden in the African sediment, under the territorial waters of Namibia!

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In an International Gemological Institute article, diamond specialist John Pollard described the arrangement between the Namibian Government and mining specialist DeBeers.'
Debmarine Namibia (DBMN) is owned by the Government of Namibia and DeBeers’ in equal shares. After 10 years of successful cooperation the Government of Namibia and DeBeers’ announced a further agreement to cooperate in the sorting, valuing and sales of all production from Namdeb and Debmarine Namibia through 2025. Cutting and polishing has also been brought into Namibia, providing additional jobs for many nationals. These joint initiatives have resulted in tremendous infrastructure improvement and development for the country. The population is better educated, healthier, and wealthier since being able to benefit from the rich resources hidden just offshore.

Unique sustainability 

The Namibian Ministry of Fishing and Marine Activity was consulted and included in Debmarine Namibia’s planning starting in 2005. As a result, there are no major fish spawning grounds and no commercial fishing in the mining area. Dredging equipment was designed so that stray marine life sucked into the pipe is returned to the sea alive. Unlike deep-sea dredging, shallow mining returns tailings to their original beds. The operation maintains ISO environmental compliance and Namibia's Marine Ministry is involved in monitoring and assisting with rehabilitation of mined areas. This can be compared to forestry industry rehabilitation, but it takes only 3-10 years for mined marine areas to rehab.

Approximately 1.4 million carats of gem-quality diamond rough were recovered from the ocean in 2018. This represented around 75% of all diamond exports from Namibia that year, a ratio which has played out similarly for the past 15 years. As a result, the Namibian population is better educated, healthier and wealthier - thanks to these rich resources being retrieved from just offshore.

So the next time you see a diamond sparkling, on a finger, an earlobe, a necklace or on TV you can now wonder whether or not it might have come from the sparkling African ocean.

You can learn more in the Africa News video below, and read the full story here.


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