Russian mining consortium World of Diamonds Group, which has various subsidiaries from diamond extraction, processing and distribution, mines between six and eight million carats every year. The figure is slightly higher than Dominion Diamond Corporation’s 6.6 million carats recovered, but over a third of Debswana’s 20 million carats annual recovery. Debswana still holds its title as the world’s leading diamond producer by value.
Since its inception in 2001, World of Diamonds Group has been on the world map though joint-venture diamond projects in Russia, Africa and South America. With the Tarskaya diamond mine which was discovered in 2006 and operational in 2010, the Group has transitioned to become one of the largest privately held diamond corporations. Typical of Russian companies and in an attempt to guard their trade clients, the Group has not publicized its revenues nor has its directors sought public exposure. However, amounts of USD 60 million to USD 85 million are spent annually for five concurrent diamond exploration activities, from the Far East Kamchatka Peninsula to Magadan and parts of Yakutsk.
Located in North-Eastern Russia in the Srednekansky region, Tarskaya’s six open pit mines have varying depths, and of up to almost 500 meters. Access to the mine, like most places in Siberia, are only possible by helicopters or a certain class of propeller-powered planes. Advanced mining techniques such as lowly-charged explosives, proprietary primary crushing technology and infrared detectors allow World of Diamonds Group to offer large gem-quality diamonds to prominent diamantaires around the globe.
Oleg Antipov, the Group’s Vice President for mining exploration, asserted that “WOD Group does not have any plans to transition into underground mining due to the vast reserves of existing open-pits and the availability of land area which provides the opportunity for new mines”.
In 2014, in response to the sanctions against Russian companies, World of Diamonds Group relocated diamond cutting operations from its 36,000 square feet Antwerp-based facility to a new manufacturing centre, adjacent to the Tarskaya diamond mine. An entire town has since been built, complete with education programmes for the employees’ children, basic medical facilities, and massive living quarters.
Research and grading facilities are available within the premises, to complement the Group’s divisions in diamond polishing. Security is tight throughout the facilities and mines; automated vaults deep in the ground are guarded by armed personnel and internet connectivity is disabled as a security measure. Most of the almost 9,000 employees who work within the Group’s subsidiaries are Russians.
While most of its polished diamonds are supplied to international brand names which have their design houses in Europe and the Americas, the Group still has direct relationships with renowned designers based in Geneva.
Among World of Diamonds Group’s notable creations are the world’s most expensive perfume collection, a Jane Seymour blue diamond ring named after the British American celebrity, the world’s most expensive dinner with its partner under the LVMH Group, and the world’s most expensive chopsticks. Most recently, the diamond corporation was contracted by a Texas-based travel agency to create gold and diamond swizzle sticks as part of the world’s most expensive trip. The Group has also been internationalizing itself through a presence in Asia, especially in Singapore.
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