Monthly Archives: June 2014



Chinese researchers from Yanshan University have created a synthetic diamond harder than its natural counterpart and able to withstand even hotter temperatures.

The team, led by Yongjun Tian, say the new form of diamond could be used to make superior cutting or crushing tools, capable of operate under very extreme conditions.

The resulting diamond has an extremely high hardness of around 200GPa and is stable at temperatures up to nearly 1000°C – 200°C higher than natural diamond.

The group made the diamond by heating carbon onions —concentric fullerene spheres nested within one another— at 2000°C and 25GPa, hundreds of thousands of times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere. The resulting diamond has an extremely high hardness of around 200GPa and is stable at temperatures up to nearly 1000°C – 200°C higher than natural diamond.

“The scientific community has dreamt of synthesising novel materials harder than natural diamond for decades,” says Tian in an article published this week in the journal Nature.

The usual approach, he adds, is to try and create smaller and smaller grains within the material’s microstructure.

Because of its superior features, the synthetic diamond diamond can be use to manufacture industrial tools or scientific instruments —such as diamond anvil cells— that work at high temperatures.

The team is currently working on reducing the pressure needed to make each diamond by using finer carbon onions, so that they can be more easily manufactured.

Henry Sapiecha

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De Beers to opening world’s largest and richest new diamond mine in Canada

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Production at De Beers’ Gahcho Kue diamond mine, a joint venture with Mountain Province Diamond (TSX:MPV), may be delayed from 2015 to as late as beginning of 2017 due to regulatory restrictions that limited shipments to the site this winter, delaying construction. In an interview with Reuters, De Beers’ chief executive Phillipe Mellier said the firm expects to get the necessary permits to truck in more equipment and material next winter. While Canada’s federal government approved the mine in October last year, Gahcho Kué is still waiting on a water license. Situated almost 300 kilometres east of Yellowknife and southeast of the existing Snap Lake diamond project, Gahcho Kué is set to become the world’s largest and richest new diamond mine, according to operator Mountain Province, which owns 49% of the venture. The importance of the mine is also tied to the fact that two of Canada’s major diamond mines — Diavik and Ekati — are approaching the end of their productive lives, and —although it’s smaller— Gahcho Kué could offset the production drop-off.


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De Beers and Mountain Province have said that almost 700 workers will be needed during the construction period, with at least 400 to be employed during its estimated 11 years of operations. The mine is expected to produce an average of 4.5 million carats annually. The companies still need to secure the final construction and operational permits before full construction can begin. Public hearings on the company’s applications are scheduled for early May, with permits likely to be issued sometime in the fall.

Henry Sapiecha

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De Beers, the world’s largest diamond miner by market value, expects global demand for polished gems to rise by up to 4.5% this year, boosted by the US market recovery and an ever growing appetite for these precious stones in China and India.

Chief executive Philippe Mellier said despite the still frail state of the global economy, demand for diamond-based jewellery continues to grow.

“The largest global market for diamond jewellery is the United States and everyone knows they are taking off again,” he said in an interview with AFP.

Several of the company’s latest decisions seem to signal De Beers is also bracing for a rough diamond demand rush. In January, the firm said it has not ruled out an expansion of its Victor diamond mine in Canada. In March, the firm —majority-owned by Anglo American (LON:AAL)— revealed it was looking to tap into the new markets, landing later a new diamond exploration license in Angola, the world’s fourth largest producer of diamonds by value, and sixth by volume.

De Beers is not the only one tooting the industry’s own horn. World’s largest diamond producer Alrosa is also anticipating a big jump in gems prices

De Beers is not the only one tooting the industry’s own horn. World’s largest diamond producer Alrosa is also anticipating a big jump in gems pricesdue to both reduced production in the medium term and increasing demand.

Rough diamond prices have, in fact, climbed 3% over the last few months and Bain & Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) predict prices for the gems will continue to increase at least until 2018.

Henry Sapiecha

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Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL) saw its share price rise more than 6% Friday after it unveiled the discovery of a massive 122.52-carat blue diamond at its Cullinan mine in South Africa.

The London-listed company said further tests were needed on the “exceptional” stone before it could determine the value of the gem, the largest ever found in the mine since Petra acquired it in 2008.

It added it would not look to sell the stone before the end of its current financial year on June 30.

“So far, the highest price on record paid for a rough diamond was $35.3m, paid in February 2010 for a 507 carat white stone, also recovered from Cullinan. We think that this stone may break that record,” finnCap analyst Martin Potts told BBC News.

In February, the same firm sold a 29.6-carat blue diamond for $25.6m and a 25.5-carat one for $16.9m last year.

The Cullinan mine, located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, is renowned for producing large blue diamonds and is the site of the discovery of the world’s largest gem 109 years ago.

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“The rarity of a blue diamond of this magnitude sets it apart as a truly significant find,” Petra said.

The world’s biggest certified diamond is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found at the mine near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, set in the Crown Jewels of Britain.

Henry Sapiecha

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