Mirny: A Giant Diamond Mine that Sucks Helicopters In

September 28, 2016

Mir Mine, mostly known as Mirny Mine, is one of the larger man-made excavated holes in the world. It is based in the old Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, now Eastern Siberia, and discovered on June 13th, 1955 by Soviet geologists, who were holding an expedition in Yakut ASSR called Amakinsky. The mine is 525 meters deep, which makes it the 4th deepest in the world and has a diameter of 1,200 meters.

mirny[Image source: Alrosa]

Lenin Prize

Scientists Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina, and Viktor Avdeenko found traces of volcanic rock kimberlite, which is normally related with diamonds. Khabardin was honored by the Lenin Prize, which was one of the high ranking awards of the Soviet Union, as they deserved. So, the story of Mirny has started in 1957…

mirny-eng-ru2[Image source: Alrosa]

Saving a country

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered construction on the mine and rebuilt the country after it was devastated by World War II from the money that came from Mir Mine. However, constructing the Mirny wasn’t easy at all. First of all the weather condition of the area is really tough, the winter lasts around seven months and it is often as low as -40 degrees Celsius. The weather became trouble for the scientists, they even used dynamite after they failed to melt the permafrost as much as was wanted.

mirny-construction[Image source: English Russia]

mirny-mine6[Image source: Alrosa]

£13billion worth of diamonds

The Mir Mine was the largest diamond mine in the Soviet Union. In the 1960s, it was producing 10,000,000 carats (2,000 kg) of diamond per year, of which was a high portion (20%) of gem market in the world. Its £13billion valuation is based on the total value of all the diamonds produced ever in the mine reserve.

mirny-mine1[Image source: Alrosa]

The upper layers of the mine (down to 340 meters) had very high diamond content of 4 carats per ton of rock, which includes a large amount of gems and industrial stones. One of the largest diamonds was the size of a golf ball, the 130.85 carat Olonkho diamond, worth around £250,000.

mir-mine3[Image source: Alrosa]

‘A Diamond is Forever’

At the same time, a company called De Beers simultaneously was leading and distributing a large amount of the diamonds in the world market.

a-diamond-is-forever2[Image source: De Beers]

It was the first company which presented diamonds as a symbol of love and commitment, with a successful marketing strategy created by a young copywriter. They coined one of the most important advertising lines, ‘A Diamond is Forever’ in 1947, which was prized as the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.

http-media-englishrussia-comnewpictureshow-are-russian-diamonds-being-mined0_7e805_a96a95a3_orig_full-jpg3[Image source: Alrosa]

The mine was operated by the Sakha / Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic Diamond Company, in the 1990s. Eventually, the Mirny mine was acquired by Alrosa, which is the biggest diamond company in Russia and employed 3,600 workers.

mir-mine2[Image source: Alrosa]

Alrosa constructed network tunnels for underground diamond excavations in 1970’s and operated as an underground mine till 1999. The Mir Mine was based on a drilling exploration project that reached to 1,220 meters in depth for decades until permanently closed in 2004. As of the 2010 Census, the population of Mirny was 37,188.

mirny-eng-ru[Image source: Alrosa]

Besides, Russia banned giant helicopters from flying over the Mirny mine to stop the ‘sucking’ possibility, created by the fact that the mine creates a large swirling vortex. It is claimed as enough to suck helicopters into its depths.

Fletcher DeLancey explains the reason of this effect on his blog:

If a hole is deep enough — and a half-kilometer deep hole qualifies — the earth will warm the air inside it. The deeper the hole, the warmer the air. Warm air rises, and cool air sinks, so with a big temperature difference between in-hole air and aboveground air, you get quite a bit of air movement.

Thus, two things are happening. First, the warm air rising from the hole is less dense and gives less lift to helicopter rotors than the cooler air it had been flying through. Since the temperature change is extremely abrupt as the helicopter flies over the hole, the pilot may lose a bunch of altitude before managing to adjust the speed enough (read: increase the spin rate of the rotors) to compensate for the loss of lift.

At the same time, the cool air pouring into that hole from all sides is going to create quite a wind shear. If a helicopter loses enough lift to hit the stream of cold air, it could easily be slammed into the side of the borehole before it ever developed enough lift or power to recover.

mirny-eco-city[Image source: Evolo]

An  innovative architectural studio called AB Elise announced that they are planning to build a gigantic domed city in the disused mine, called Eco-city 2020, which was designed as a proposal for the rehabilitation of the Mirniy industrial zone in Eastern Siberia. It would use solar energy to power homes for 100,000 people.

SEE ALSO: Miners Play Bowling With Gigantic Excavator