“God frostbite on your fingers”: the largest diamond producer in the world produces from the permafrost of Yakutia jewels and tales

Around enormous wealth often legends. It happened in the Siberian Yakutia. The story goes that God had frostbite in Yakutia fingers and dropped the entire table of elements.

In the permafrost of Yakutia, its official name is the Republic of Sakha, hiding a big part of the diamonds of Russia. Taiga diamonds found in 1950-ies of two women-a geologist who traveled through the countryside, accompanied by local herders.

The extraction of the most solid forms of carbon — diamonds — are usually associated with Africa, but the biggest producer of diamonds is Russia. State Corporation “ALROSA” last year produced 29% of all diamonds in the world: 37 million carats worth more than three billion euros.

A helicopter for two hours flying over the monotonous taiga. Then, the surface of the earth becomes similar to the craters on the serpentine slopes which drive trucks. Near the crater of the towering factory building, residential houses, resembling from afar the Alpine houses, and even a little Church.

We arrived in the Kingdom of ALROSA centre of the Russian diamond industry. In Nakyn, where the field of diamonds can only be reached by air or by winter road which is open four months of the year.

Now “ALROSA” in Yakutia, four careers, and four mines. The Corporation also works in the Arkhangelsk region, in Africa and soon will be working in Mongolia.

Ore reserves of the Corporation valued at billions of carats, at the present rate would last for 30 years.

Nakin — the youngest deposits of ALROSA, it opened in 1990-ies.

The diamond content in the ore is high: four carats per thousand pounds. If carat — measure of weight equal to the weight of the seed of the carob tree, that is 0.2 grams, you can imagine the mass of rock we need to get these crumbs.

1.2 thousand men and women working in Nakina in shifts for two weeks at 12 hours a day and earn around 600 euros. Alcohol in the town is prohibited. For hunting or fishing immediately dismiss because I don’t want to work disappeared in the forest.

The depth of the deepest career Nakina is 315 meters. The frozen ground, covered with dust from drilling the hole and crushed. Diamonds don’t Shine here.

“I have been working here for 15 years and have never seen the diamonds,” — said the head of career Nikolai Artemov.

On the nearest the concentrator, the ore is crushed and milled. Diamonds are not damaged, because it is a solid element found in nature.

Separators Russian production determine the availability of diamonds for their extraordinary reflectivity: the diamond reflects x-rays.

More to the East in the Yakut tundra hides another treasure: one of the world’s largest deposits of rare earth elements. Here are concentrated deposits of yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, europium, samarium, praseodymium, scandium and neodymium.

Virtually the only producer of rare earth metals is China, which in the 1980-ies took all the other players. Now Russia and the US want to resume the mining of rare earth metals strategic reasons.

“The state of rare earth metals needed for the defense industry”, — says Sergey Sergienko, the Chairman of the Board of “Vostok Engineering”, owning the license field Tomtor.

The biggest package of shares of the company owned by billionaire Alexander Nesis, a second co-owner is the state Corporation “rostec”. Scheduled to start production in 2020, the amount of investment will amount to 400 million euros.

On the field Nacin ALROSA continues to work with diamonds. Of Nakina diamonds on the plane go to the capital of diamonds, the city of peace. On the streets of the state company promotes the ruling party “United Russia”.

In to ALROSA employs about 30 thousand people. The Corporation has its own kindergartens, culture houses, boiler houses, the river fleet, the TV station, hydroelectric power stations, research institutions and even farms — the truth is, the Corporation is now trying to get rid of excess.

From the sale of the airfield of the Peace refused, because under the runway also diamonds were discovered.

In the Pacific mine diamonds since 1957

Quarry with a depth of 525 meters left as a monument near the village, consisting of multi-storey buildings. Currently diamonds are mined in mines is much more expensive, but still worth it.

Diamonds are now searching for the plane with the help of magnetic survey, but if the field is deep, that is prospecting.

On diamond deposits also indicates the presence of garnet, pyrope and zirconium.

In the Grand main corporate office in the Peace interview is with the Vice-President, mining engineer Igor Sobolev. ALROSA has long been a very prosperous company, but in 2009 and 2015 diamond prices declined.

“We responded by reducing production in 2016, and now the situation has improved,” — said Sobolev. Last year corporate profits amounted to more than a billion euros, not counting the profit from exchange rate differences.

In the first quarter of 2017 profit, however, decreased by 50% compared to last year.

Dozens of years, “ALROSA” and its competitor, De Beers regulated the market prices, agreeing on the size of production, but the EU has ruined the cartel in 2008. And now companies react to falling prices the same.

Contrary to rumors, the main clients of the diamond market are not rich and the middle class.

“The sale goes well, where a growing middle class, says Sobolev. In the USA the market is stable, China and India are developing well.”

The danger for companies are artificial diamonds?

“At the moment markets do not find the situation critical. They can reduce the market by one fifth, but this would require huge investments and three to five years time,” says Sobolev and notes that, in his view, the words “artificial diamond” is not even worth to say.

In the Peace diamonds get to the sorting center where they are studied with the help of technology and visual with the help of lenses and microscopes. Most of the staff were women.

“Women are more attentive and better withstand monotonous work. And the diamonds are more like women’s hands,” — said the Deputy head of production Aleksey Evstratov.

Diamonds are graded by weight, size, shape and color.

© RIA Novosti, Alexei Kondratiev | go to photobacteria in Yakutia gems

The most valuable are colorless and symmetric octahedral diamonds. Cracks and inclusions reduce the value of a diamond.

The largest diamonds are given names.

The largest diamond was found in Yakutia in 1980, He weighed 342 carats and has received the pompous name — the “Name of the XXVI Congress of the CPSU.”

Little diamonds of poor quality are used in work tools.

And all diamonds, is worthy of jewelry, become them: they account for 90% of the revenue of ALROSA. If the user decides that he are more suitable for artificial diamonds, taiga left alone.

From the Peace diamonds flew to Moscow. A large part is then sent to India, where about 70% of diamonds around the world are grinding and cutting.

In the 1990-ies in Yakutia was a diamond cutter’s production, most of them are today bankrupt. In Yakutsk still hanging independent diamond cutting company Epl Diamond.

In his shops, first in a three-dimensional image choose the optimal shape for the diamond. Then it is cut and shape — of course, another diamond.

Trademark of is the cut “burning ice”. With this cut on top of the diamond visible arrows, and the bottom — heart. A diamond weighing 0.3 carats can be bought for a thousand euros or even cheaper.

In the jewelry shops of Yakutsk there is a big sale: precious stones is not easy to sell during the economic crisis.

The son of a man from Putin’s entourage was a diamond king

The privatization of “ALROSA” is a very sensitive business in the Republic of Yakutia, which owns a fourth of the stock of the Corporation.

The new General Director of “ALROSA” became 36-summer Sergey Ivanov, the son of the closest ally of Vladimir Putin, Sergei Ivanov.

In April, Ivanov met with his unknown to this industry in Yakutia. Correspondents from Helsingin Sanomat was present at the meeting where Ivanov was presented to the leadership of ALROSA. In appearance very reminiscent of the leader, he modestly smiled and spoke gently.

According to the head of Yakutia Yegor Borisov, in the leadership of the Corporation wanted to see a person who is familiar with financial systems.

“When I met Ivanov saw how well he understood the activities of the company and has a question. We don’t even have occurred to kinship,” — said Borisov on the issue Helsingin Sanomat about the appointment of Ivanov.

“ALROSA” is the largest taxpayer in Yakutia. The Republic owns 25% of the shares of the Corporation. The main owner is still the state, but it is going to reduce its stake, which is now 33%.

The government is going to sell ALROSA together with a share of Yakutia, but, according to Borisov, the Republic intention to reduce its stake.

Instead, the Republic wants to give up his share in the daughters of the company “ALROSA”, which holds the license in Nakina. This caused the resistance in the Nyurba district, which is inhabited by the Yakuts and in the territory of which is a quarry. Speaking against the sale of the head Murmanskogo district was arrested in December on suspicion of abuse of office.