Eighty percent of all diamonds mined are industrial diamonds and unsuitable for jewellery. The diamonds suitable for jewellery might be called the Rolls Royce of diamonds, but it is the more common industrial diamonds that, along with other factors, drive the price. One other factor is the rise of synthetic diamonds. Cheaper to produce and with more specific criteria and quality control available, synthetic diamonds are in high demand around the world.
Being the hardest mineral known, industrial diamonds are predominately used as drilling and abrasive tools and form the vast majority of the overall diamond trade. In fact over 95 percent of all industrial diamonds are now synthetic. Interestingly China has the biggest output of synthetic diamonds with around four billion (yes billion) carats in 2014.
Despite this there is still a high demand for natural industrial diamonds and here is a list of the top five nations that produce the most diamonds in the world.
The African continent features predominantly of course with most of the natural diamonds in the world mined there, closely followed by Russia and Australia.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) produces around 18 million carats of natural diamonds legally and possibly more illegally with thriving corruption and rebel owned mines with slave labour. It was this that gave rise to the term conflict diamonds and the Kimberley process created to reduce the emergence and sale of ‘conflict diamonds.’
Russia, with 15 million carats is a top diamond producer and it is said that the Popigai Astroblem meteoric crater in Russia contains more diamonds that the rest of the world reserves put together. According to the Christian Science Monitor;
“The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem. They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it, apparently because the USSR’s huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market.” Releasing such a large amount of diamonds would naturally bring the price down.
Australia’s diamond deposits are primarily located in the Argyle deposit operated by the global giant Rio Tinto. Mine production is around ten million carats and since it was started in the 1980s over 800 million carats of industrial diamonds have been produced.
Getting back to the African Continent, Botswana produces around seven million carats per annum. While many countries hold gold in reserve, Botswana holds 130 million carats of diamonds in reserve instead.
South Africa produces around five million carats last year climbing a massive 3 million carats, an increase that boosted the nation after suffering from the GFC, according to Mining Weekly News. South Africa has 70 million carats salted away in reserve for a rainy day.