|VR=525 m, Ø=1,200 m.
|Mir Diamond Mine, Mirny, Sakha Republic, Russia, 678171.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|mine opened on order by Stalin.
The Алмазный карьер «Мир» (Mir Diamond Mine, Freedom Mine) is located at the eponymous town Mirny. It started as a huge open cast mine, which dug into the diamond bearing kimberlite pipe. The construction of the mine was ordered by Josip Stalin in 1955, because the Soviet Union needed industrial-grade diamonds. During its heydays the mine produced over 10 million carats of diamonds annually of which a good percentage were gem-quality. Mir has produced over 200 million carats of diamonds, the largest weighing 342 carats.
As the mine is located in Siberia, there are long winters and permafrost, which made open cast mining quite difficult. One of the legends around the mine tells that experiments to use jet engines to melt the ground failed. As a result, explosives had to be used. After the pit had become one of the biggest three man-made holes, it was abandoned and mining continued underground.
The underground mine is still working, and so it is not possible to visit it. But the open cast mine is visible from various locations around the rim, and when approaching the town by plane, as the airport is located very close to the mine. Some years ago it was forbidden to cross the mine with helicopters, as downwinds created by the huge hole caused a tragic accident. At least that's the urban legend which is told on many websites.
Diamonds are very valuable, and so the town and the mine are off limits to outsiders without a special permit. If you have the permit, the authorities nevertheless regard any foreigner with considerable suspicion.