Diamonds in Alaska

Q. If there are diamonds in Yellowknife, are there any in Alaska? -John

A. Wow, John! What a great question. When I read it, I thought, HUH?! Diamonds in Yellowknife? Isn’t that in Canada? Whoever heard of such a thing! This is the fun of a column such as mine, though. If I don’t know something, I have to go looking. You have increased my brain cells today for sure!

John is right. They have indeed found diamonds in Canada. There are two mines operating about 188 miles north of Yellowknife which is the capital of Northwest Territories. Ekati Diamond Mine began operation in 1998 and the Diavik Diamond Mine began operating in 2003. The mines pull out the equivalent of about a coffee can full of diamonds a day – or $1.4 million dollars worth.

Since mining began worldwide, there have been about 1 million pounds of diamonds found, compared to 260 million pounds of gold. Diamonds are much rarer; which probably makes it all the more exciting when they are found. We always seem to value the rare.

Experts are thinking that in 20 years time, Canada will lead the world in diamond production, even topping South Africa and Australia! Who knew?

I found there is a very good book by a man named Kevin Krajick called: Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds In The North American Arctic. I think you’d find it of interest.

Now….are there diamonds in Alaska? Well, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first, John?

The bad news is that the rocks underlying Alaska are much younger than those underlying the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is the very old rocks which produce the most diamonds. So geologists say that the possibilities of such a large find is not as likely in Alaska.

The good news is that in 1982 a miner in central Alaska, busily doing his placer mining on Crooked Creek, did indeed find a diamond. Shortly thereafter, two other miners each found a diamond along the same stretch of creek. Also, it is a known fact that the big diamond cartel, De Beers, is poking around in Alaska; but, of course, their findings are secret. So who knows?

Now that I’ve done some research, do I personally think there are diamonds here? You betcha! Nothing about the Great Land would surprise me! Thanks for writing. -Bonnie J.

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