History


The history of mining rough diamonds in Russia dates back to the 18th century, but sustained exploration began in the late 1930s. This was when Russian researcher Vladimir Sobolev published his paper on the geological similarities between South Africa and Siberia.

Activity was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War (World War II), but resumed in the late 1940s. Geological expeditions were sent out to find rough diamond deposits around the river Vilyui, and its tributaries – the Malaya (small) Botuobia, and Bolshaya (big) Botuobia.

In 1949 they found the first rough diamond in Yakutia. By 1954, the Zarnitsa pipe was discovered – the first primary diamond deposit in the Soviet Union. From that point, Russian diamonds made their way into world markets.

1957–1967: Beginnings

The almost 60-year history of our company can be divided into several important periods.

The first covers the years of development, and the establishment of the industry and its structure.

Yakutalmaz Trust was created in 1957 in the tent village of Mirny, next to the Mir kimberlite pipe. The same year, it produced the first industrial diamonds. Two years later, it began to supply them abroad under a contract agreement with De Beers Corporation.

Initially, rough diamonds were produced from the Mir kimberlite pipe and adjacent placers. Despite the challenges of working in the remote taiga – such as winter temperatures down to minus 60 degrees, no roads, and extreme distances to industrial centres – nothing stopped the early explorers. Indeed, they drove even further north. In 1961, they began developing the Aikhal pipe – located almost at the Arctic Circle – where living and working conditions were even more severe than in Mirny. During this period, major mines were opened in Western Yakutia. Processing plants and housing settlements, roads and airports were built, and a specialized research and design institute was created. To supply energy to the plants and open-pit mines, these pioneers built the world’s first hydroelectric power station on permafrost, 100 kilometres from Mirny. In 1966, to recognise the scale of these achievements, Yakutalmaz Trust was given the highest award in the Soviet Union: the Order of Lenin.

Major events of these years:

  • 1957 – Yakutalmaz Trust created; Processing Plant No. 1 produced first industrial diamonds
  • 1960 – Aikhal pipe discovered; Dredge No. 201 commissioned
  • 1966 – First rough diamonds obtained at Processing Plant No. 3, in Mirny
  • 1967 – First stage of Vilyui HPP begins operation

1968–1978: Early growth

This was a period growth in both production and also geographical expansion. The main focus was on Plant No. 3 and the Mir open-pit mine in Mirny. However, the operation was also developing the northern platform. Work began on the Udachny mine, 60 kilometres from the village of Aikhal, on the Udachnaya pipe. First came Plant No. 11, which started producing rough diamonds in August 1967. Then, work began on the major construction of the Udachny Mining and Processing Division and Plant No. 12. Construction was completed in just five years – a record-breaking achievement. Along with the plant, the company also built a comfortable settlement fully supported by infrastructure, Novy Gorod (New Town).

In 1971, ore mining began 18 kilometres from Mirny at the Internatsionalnaya pipe, one of the richest diamond deposits in the world

Major events of these years:

  • 1967 – Udachny mine created, with the first rough diamonds obtained at Processing Plant No. 11
  • 1969 – Yakutalmaz Trust reorganized into an association
  • 1975 – Yubileynaya pipe opened
  • 1976 – First stage of Udachny Mining and Processing Division began operation

1979–1992: Rapid development

This phase saw fast development of diamond mining in Aikhal and Udachny, along with increased production of mining equipment.

The company set new records for daily and annual productivity of excavators and drilling rigs, in the plants and mines of Yakutalmaz. We also saw the rapid implementation of new technologies, in particular X-ray luminescent separation. Indeed, the slogan ‘More Rough Diamonds for the Motherland!’ was coined and became well known during these years.

The company created the Aikhal Mining and Processing Division to expand the diamond production in Aikhal, with the opening of the major new Yubileynaya pipe. In February 1987, the Yakutalmaz Production Association was reorganized into the Yakutsk Production and Research Association Yakutalmaz, incorporating the construction organisations of the former Vilyuyigesstroy administration.

Towns and villages in Western Yakutia were modernized, thanks to the commissioning of the panel construction plant in Mirny. Mirny began to use local gas for heating, while sewage treatment and other environmental protection facilities were built. Automation, computer science, and communications were also developed.

Major events of these years:

  • 1978 – Mirny Geological Expedition established
  • 1986 – Aikhal Mining and Processing Division created
  • 1987 – Yakutalmaz association reorganized into a production and research association
  • 1991 – Mirny Mining and Processing Division created

1993–2008: Into the market economy

These were the years of establishing and developing the enterprise as a joint stock company in the market economy. In 1992 Yakutalmaz Production and Research Association, and a number of state organizations, were consolidated into a single joint-stock company – ALROSA. And so, the fourth phase of our history began.

There was also an organizational restructuring in the 1990s. DiamondCenter and Almazexport were created in Moscow, and then the United Selling Organization. The Diamond Trading Company was established in Yakutsk. Since then, the company not only produces rough diamonds, but also sorts and sells them in both domestic and global markets. In fact, we created a proprietary system for sorting and evaluating rough diamonds, training expert personnel to fill these roles.

We created subsidiaries to cover both basic production, and also cutting and polishing. Production capacity grew; a mining and processing division was established on the Yubileynaya deposit; and we commissioned the first underground diamond mine in Russia, on the Internatsionalnaya pipe. Towards the close of this period, we made a significant and ambitious change to our industrial policy, starting construction of underground mines on the Mir, Udachnaya and Aikhal pipes.

Major events of these years:

  • 1992 – ALROSA Company Limited (Closed Joint-Stock Company) created
  • 1997 – Joint enterprise Catoca Ltd. Mining Co., in Angola, produced its first rough diamonds
  • 2003 – Commissioning of Processing Plant No. 16 on the Nyurbinskaya pipe; operations of Nyurba Mining and Processing Division began
  • 2005 –OJSC Severalmaz subsidiary began mining rough diamonds in Arkhangelsk region

2009: Full independence

Due to the implementation of the anti-monopoly law, in 2009 the European Commission terminated ALROSA’s partnership with De Beers. Since then, we have built our own long-term sales policy, to sell our products on the global market independently. In recent years, there has also been a continuing transition to underground mining, and we remain focused on expanding our mineral resources base. For example, we commissioned the Mir and Aikhal underground mines, and have started developing the Botuobinskaya kimberlite pipe.

In 2011, the company was transformed into a joint-stock company, and its shares were admitted to free circulation on the financial market.

The story continues. It is being written by those who choose the hard work of a diamond miner as their profession: from underground workers, to geologists, to mineral engineers. Indeed, many great people have worked in our company in different periods. Here are their stories.

Year by year

2016

ALROSA starts the development of a new deposit, Zarya pipe at Aikhal Mining and Processing Division.

2015

Udachny underground mine named after Fedor Andreev put into operation and first start-up complex launched.

2015

Udachny open pit mine closed and open-pit diamond mining terminated.

2014

ALROSA commission the second module of the processing plant at OJSC Severalmaz and increase its processing capacity up to 4 million tons of ore per year.

2013

ALROSA stock listed on the Moscow Exchange as part of privatization.

2013

Nizhne-Lenskoe becomes part of ALROSA Group.

2013

Stage 3 of Aikhal underground mine commissioned to bring it to the design capacity of 500 thousand tons of ore per year.

2012

Exploitation of Botuobinskaya pipe begins

2012

ALROSA production development plan, up to 2021, approved

2011

ALROSA sign the Agreement on Social and Economic Development with the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), valid till December 31, 2020

2010

ALROSA sign a collective agreement with Profalmaz labor union for the period up to 2013

2009

Mir Underground Mine commissioned

2008

Third hydroelectric unit of Svetlinskaya HPP begins operation

2007

50th anniversary of the Yakutalmaz Group, with celebrations held in Mirny

2005

Industrial mining operations begin at the Lomonosov diamond field in the Arkhangelsk Region (OJSC Severalmaz). Phase II of the processing module at Catoca and Phase 1 of the Camatchia-Camagico Project in Angola are commissioned. The construction of an underground mine in Udachny begins

2004

Dredge No. 203 of the Mirny Mining & Processing Division begins exploitation. The first generating unit of the Svetlinskaya HPP (Vilyui HPP-3) supplies power. Construction of the Udachny Underground Mine begins

2003

Processing Plant No. 16. of the Nyurba Mining & Processing Division starts operation. We hold the first ALROSA international auction for special-size rough diamonds

2001

Open-pit operations at the Mir pipe are terminated

2000

Nyurba Mining & Processing Division established. The Brillianty ALROSA cutting and polishing division is established

1999

The International underground mine begins operation. Markhinskaya pipe discovered. The Anabar placer is restructured into the Anabar Mining and Processing Division

1997

First diamonds recovered at the processing facility of Catoca Ltda in Angola. ALROSA opens representative offices in Luanda (Angola), Antwerp (Belgium), London (UK)

1996

Nyurba pipe discovered. United Selling Organization (USO) of ALROSA established. The first phase of the Jubilee Mining and Processing Division begins operation

1994

Botuobinskaya pipe discovered

1993

Catoca Ltda Mining Co. established in Angola

1992

ALROSA Closed Joint-Stock Company established

1991

Mirny Mining & Processing Division established

1986

Aikhal Mining & Processing Division established. Development of the Jubilee pipe begins

1979

Udachny Mining & Processing Division established

1978

Mirny Exploration Expedition established

1976

First stage of the mining and processing complex at Udachny pipe is commissioned and begins operation

1975

Jubilee pipe discovered

1971

Mining at the International Open-Pit Mine begins

1969

International pipe discovered. Yakutalmaz Group of enterprises restructured into Yakutalmaz Production and Scientific Association

1967

Construction of the Udachny placer mine completed. First diamonds recovered at Processing Plant No. 11. The first stage of the Vilyui HPP begins operation

1966

Plant No. 3 in Mirny commissioned, and first diamonds recovered

1961

Construction of the Aikhal open-pit mine completed

1960

Aikhal pipe discovered. Dredge No. 201 commissioned

1959

SoyuzPromExport All-Union Trade Organization sells the first shipment of Russian diamonds on the external market. Botuobinskaya Exploration Expedition established, and subsequently discovers hundreds of diamond deposits in Yakutia

1957

Yakutalmaz Group of Enterprises established. First commercial-grade diamonds recovered at Processing Plant No. 1

1955

Discovery of the pipes Mir ('Peace') and Udachnaya ('Lucky'), alluvial deposits of Log Khabardina and Vodorazdelnye Galechniki. Altogether, 15 primary diamond sources discovered in 1955

1954

Zamitsa, first primary diamond deposit, discovered

History

Introduction

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Periods

Period 1

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Period 2

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Historical milestones

The worlds leading diamond producer