Russia plans sharp increase domestic diamond production

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by Eugene Gerden

Russia has no plans to revise its earlier announced plans for the increase of the domestic diamond production within the next several years, despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus which has negatively affected local economies and industry, according to recent statements by representatives of local producers and senior officials of the Russian government.

According to earlier statements of ALROSA, Russia’s leading diamond producer, in 2019, diamond production in Russia grew by 5% and amounted to 38.5 million carats. The growth was mainly due to the increase of production at the Botuobinskaya field and reaching the design capacity of the Verkhne-Munskoye field which officially began two years ago during the visit of President Vladimir Putin.

Despite the negative consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, this year the volume of diamond production in Russia will significantly increase. That goal will be achieved through the more active development of the existing diamond fields in the Yakutia Republic, a centre of Russian diamond production, as well as some other regions of the country.

Recent assessments by scientists have stated that the proven reserves of the Yakutia Yubileiny and Udachny diamond mines are estimated at  about 442 million carats, which make them the world’s richest diamond reserves.

Particular hopes are also put on the development of the Popigaysky diamond field, which is located on the border of Yakutia and the Krasnoyarsk Territory and has the form of a meteorite crater.  Finally, there are plans to accelerate the development of the Botuobinsk kimberlite pipe in the same Yakutia region.

In addition to Yakutia, as part of the state plans is creating conditions for the beginning of more active development of the development of diamond reserves, which are located in the Arkhangelsk region and Perm regions of the country. In the case of Perm, according to experts of the Russian Ministry of Energy, the locally-produced diamonds are characterized by high quality, ideally suitable for jewelry.

In the meantime, leading Russian diamond mining analysts have welcomed the latest state plans to stimulate domestic diamond mining activities, however, adding that much should be done to ensure more active development of the industry in the future.

According to Konstantin Godun, Deputy General Director of Almazintech, one of Russia’s leading engineering and research agencies in the diamond mining sector, particular attention of the state should be paid for the support of junior companies.

According to Godun, currently operations of such companies in Russia are limited by the lack of legislative base and support from the state.  In addition, he said that currently Russia is experiencing a lack of special markets for venture (risk) capital for mining projects. The establishment access to venture capital would provide an impetus for conducting more research and exploration in diamond exploration and mining.

With regard to Yakutia, according to analysts of the Russian Ministry of Energy with its 150 diamond mines, the region still remains the major diamond-producing region in Russia. The largest diamond found in Russia is known as the XXVI Congress of the Kommunist Party (342.5 carats) which is stored in the Diamond Fund in the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow.

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