Catalogue of world wide diamond and kimberlite occurrences: a selective and annotative approach

A. J A (Bram) Janse*, Patricia A. Sheahan

*Corresponding author for this work

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Kimberlites occur on every continent and the total number of known primary host rock occurrences is generally accepted as 5000, of which 500 are diamondiferous, 50 have been or are being mined and 15 are large active mines. Clifford's Rule is shown to be valid in that economic kimberlites occur only on Archons, i.e. cratonic regions underlain by Archaean basement, whereas economic lamproites occur on some Protons, i.e. Proterozoic mobile belts adjacent to Archons. These Archons are distributed world wide in twelve potentially diamond producing regions which occur on seven continents. Three of these twelve regions, i.e. North America, Europe and Antarctica do not have any diamond mines, although significant primary diamond deposits have been found on the first two which will probably be mined in the next decade. The South American continent contains several cratons including the Guyana, Guaporéand Sa ̃o Francisco Cratons which each enclose Archons. These are predominantly located in remote, tropical, heavily forested areas which have not yet been fully explored. Most kimberlites discovered so far in South America lie in Protons, i.e. Proterozoic mobile belts encircling the Archons and are not economic. Therefore almost all production from South America is from alluvial deposits. There is no commercial diamond production from the North American continent, although there are many occurrences of diamonds, kimberlites and lamproites. A great staking rush has taken place in Canada in the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Québec and is still continuing. Two, and possibly five, diamond mines may be developed in the next decade. Diamond prospecting is proceeding at a fast pace in Canada and in a more limited way in the United States. The African continent contains three large cratons, the South African, Central African and West African cratons. The South African Craton includes the large Kalahari Archon on which the majority of the world's active major kimberlite diamond mines are located in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. They comprise 11 kimberlite pipe mines and 3 kimberlite dyke mines. Large alluvial, beach and off-shore deposits also produce a large proportion of the world's total. The Central African Craton includes the Lunda-Kasai and the Tanzanian Archons which each contain one active kimberlite pipe mine in Zaire and in Tanzania. Several large kimberlite pipes in Angola may become mines in the next decade. The craton also contains several large alluvial mining areas in Angola (Lunda and Cuango), Zaire (Eastern and Western Kasai) and in the Central African Republic. The West African Craton includes the Man Archon and the Ebumean Proton. Diamondiferous kimberlite pipes and dykes are located on the Man Archon in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Mali. Alluvial deposits immediately downstream from kimberlites are mined in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and occurrences of pipes and alluvials are being evaluated in Mali. Lamproite dykes located on the Eburnean Proton in Ivory Coast were mined in the past and large alluvial deposits, which cannot be traced to their primary host rock, are mined in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The basement of most of Europe is not conducive to the intrusion of diamondiferous kimberlites or lamproites, although there are many vague reports and rumours about diamond finds in several countries. The East European Craton covers most of western Russia and its neighbouring states and extends into Finland and northern Scandinavia. Several diamondiferous kimberlites and lamproites have apparently been found in the Ukraine, Belorus, Russia (Karelia and the Arkhangelsk district) and probably occur also in Finland and possibly in northern Sweden and Norway. A large diamond mine may be established on five adjacent pipes in the Pomorska field, 100 km north of Arkhangel in the next decade. There is no commercial diamond production from Europe at present. The Asian continent contains at least five cratons, the East Siberian Craton in eastern Russia, the North China, Tarim and Yangtze Cratons in China and the Indian Craton in India. The East Siberian Craton is located in eastern Siberia between the Yenessei and Lena rivers and lies partly in Yakutia and partly in the Krasnoyarsk district. At least 1000 kimberlite pipes occur in this craton and seven pipes have been mined. At present only one, Udachnaya, appears to be active as the others are being developed for deepening their open pit or for underground mining. In addition, the large Yubileinaya pipe is being prepared for open pit mining commencing in 1995. Some small alluvial deposits have also been mined in the past. All diamond mines are located in Yakutia and started only in 1959. Three cratons can be recognized in China, the North China (or Sino-Korean), the Tarim and the Yangtze Cratons. Diamondiferous kimberlites appear to occur only on the North China Craton in the Liaolu Archon. Two small kimberlite pipes are mined in central Shandong and southern Liaoning. Diamondiferous lamproites apparently occur in Protons on the Yangtze and possibly on the Tarim Cratons and alluvial deposits in the Yuan River in western Hunan have been mined in the past. The Indian subcontinent is underlain by the Indian Craton which includes four Archons, separated by Mesozoic rifts and surrounded by Proterozoic mobile belts. India's only active diamond mine at Mahjgawn near Panna in northern Madhya Pradesh is developed on a lamproite pipe located on the southern rim of the Arivalli Archon. Diamondiferous, but uneconomic, kimberlite pipes and dykes occur on the Dharwar Archon in Andhra Pradesh and these may be the primary host for the widespread alluvial deposits in the Krishna River near Kurnool and Kollur. Recently diamondiferous kimberlite pipes have been discovered near Bahradih in southern Madhya Pradesh which are probably the primary host for the alluvial deposits in the Mahanadi River in Orissa. Alluvial diamonds are mined in Indonesia in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. There are no indications of Archon, Proton or Tecton basement and no substantiated finds of diamondiferous kimberlites or lamproites. The Australian continent contains three large cratons, the West Australian, North Australian and South Australian Cratons. Diamondiferous kimberlites and lamproites occur on all cratons, but the only primary host rock mined since 1985 is the Argyle lamproite pipe which is located on a Proton, i.e. the Proterozoic Halls Creek mobile belt adjacent to the Kimberley Archon. Alluvial deposits are mined at the Bow River mine, immediately downstream from Argyle. Alluvial deposits which have not been traced to a primary host rock also occur in an orogenic belt near Copeton in New South Wales. Diamond prospecting is widespread and is focussed on the North Australian Craton in the Kimberley Archon and its off-shore areas (Cambridge Gulf) in Western Australia and in the Batten area in eastern Northern Territory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-111
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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