This is probably the most expensive hole in the world.
The massive Mir mine has a diameter of almost 1.5 kilometres and is 525 metres deep. Helicopters are even banned from flying over it, amid fears they could be sucked into its vortex.
During its peak, the mine was producing around two million carats of diamonds each year. The famous 130.85 carat Olonkho diamond, which is worth around $430,000 was found in its depths.
MINE KINGS – every day this week at 6.30pm AEST/NZST on National Geographic Channel
Temperatures in the area were so low that digging for diamonds was extremely difficult – steel would snap. Jet engines and dynamite had to be used the blast holes in the permafrost and excavate rock.
Proceeds from the eastern Siberia mine, known as ‘Diamond City”, helped turn the war-torn USSR into a global superpower.
While the mine was shut down in the 2000s, a series of tunnels underneath the mine still produce around six million carats of diamonds a year.
Siberia’s Natural Resources – Exploited Without Scrutiny
The vast reaches of Siberia are well known for Soviet-era gulags and bitter cold. Yet this scarcely populated region contains one fifth of the world’s forests and is also the scene of massive environmental degradation that goes largely unreported. A case in point: when an independent investigation revealed that an estimated 80 percent of the timber exported from Siberia is illegally logged, the follow up coverage was practically non-existent.
Siberia is the source of Russia’s oil and gas deposits—the country is the world’s third largest producer of oil (after Saudi Arabia and the United States) and the world’s second largest producer of natural gas (after the U.S.). Siberia is also chock full of mines, helping make Russia the third largest producer of diamonds, the third largest producer of gold, and the second largest producer of nickel.
In recent years, most of the environmental news coming out of Siberia concerned large craters produced by the popping of methane bubbles as the permafrost melts.