It has long has been a state secret known only to a few trusted people.
Now, Russia reveals that it has a huge deposit with "impact diamonds" having unusual
Formed millions of years ago by an asteroid falling to the ground these extraterrestrial diamonds could turn world markets "upside down".
A few days ago, Russia declassified it has trillions of carats' lie below a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia
known as Popigai Astroblem. The Russians have known about the site since the 1970s.
The veil of secrecy was finally lifte, and Moscow permitted scientists from the nearby Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy to talk about
it with Russian journalists.
The deposit is located on the border of the Krasnoyarsk region and Yakutia in the Popigai crypto-explosion structure.
It is so huge it is enough to supply global markets for another 3,000 years.
Popigai crater as seen from space.
According to the official news agency, ITAR-Tass, the diamonds at Popigai are "twice as hard" as the usual gemstones, making them ideal for industrial and
The institute's director, Nikolai Pokhilenko, told the agency that news of what's in the new field could be enough to "overturn" global diamond markets.
Location of the Popigai crater.
The Russians say most such diamonds found in the past have been "space diamonds" of extraterrestrial origin found in meteor craters.
Impact diamonds are formed when an asteroid strikes an area rich in graphite deposits. The resulting super-dense minerals are twice as hard as regular
diamonds and feature a large grain size. Diamonds like these are highly valued not just for their aesthetic qualities, but also for their use in
high-precision scientific and industrial processes.
"The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popigai crypto-explosion structure, are by a factor of ten bigger than the world's all
known reserves," Mr. Pokhilenko said.
Russian scientists are detrmined to go back and investigate the diamonds.
"We are speaking about trillions of carats. By comparison, present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats."
That creates the possibility of Russia undercutting the price of the synthetic material now produced in China and delivering a cheap new
technology for making machine and airplane parts as well as jewellery work.
Scientists are investigating a sample of the space diamonds.
"The Popigai Crater diamonds could turn everything upside down. And what happens to prices on this market then is unclear," the Yakutnipromalmaz
industrial diamond institute's deputy director Gennady Nikitin said.
But there are also problems linked to accessibility and the sites extreme remoteness from any railways or roads.
"There are production cost-effectiveness issues," leading Sobolev scientist Nikolai Tuchkov admitted.
"It is quite remote from any population centre," he observed.
However, Siberian scientists are not going to give up. An expedition is already planned to this untouched diamond crater.
The deposit is so large that if these Popigai diamonds were jewelry, every Russian could actually carry a thousand carat diamond - on each finger!
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