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Donald Haack, 78, diamond expert, adventurer, author and founder of Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems in Charlotte passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 1, 2009
Diamond Memoirs
Diamond, which is solely composed of the element Carbon, is the hardest substance known to man. Diamonds were formed many millions of years ago more than one hundred miles below the earths surface. The Diamonds, still in their rough crystal form were carried to the earths surface in molten lava which then hardened. Over time the forces of erosion moved some of these Diamonds around, which explains why they are found in rivers and streams, often very far from their original source of creation. Diamonds are mined from the hardened lava "Diamond Pipes" and removed from the surrounding rock, which is called "Kimberlite". The process of panning and digging river beds is known as alluvial mining. Many times rich alluvial deposits are found in pockets, that have washed away the lighter Kimberlite, leaving a high concentration of Diamond rough.
Pipe Mining. Pipe mining refers to the extraction of diamonds from volcanic pipes. Typically, a very large area has to be covered. An average of 250 tons of ore must be mined in order to produce a one-carat gem quality polished diamond. In most countries, a diamond pipe mine is composed of kimberlite, or blue ground. Initially kimberlite is dug from the surface of the pipes in rough opencast mining. Once the surface deposits have been exhausted, shafts are sunk into the ground at the edge of the pipes, and tunnels are driven into the deeper parts of the pipes. After the diamond-bearing rock is brought to the surface, it is then transported to a screening plant where the diamonds are separated from the host rock.
Searching river bottom for rough diamonds
Don and Harry at a river mining operation
Alluvial Mining. This process involves the extraction of diamonds from riverbeds or ocean beaches. Millions of years ago, at the time the diamond pipes were formed, some diamonds were weathered out of the pipes and carried great distances along rivers and even into oceans.
Today, to extract these diamonds from beaches, a wall is built to hold back the surf. Up to 25 metres of sand is bulldozed aside to reach the diamond-bearing level. Once reached, the diamond-bearing earth is removed and transported to screening plants.