Once De Beers has located a site that is rich in diamonds, they begin to set up equipment and teams to mine the spot. Usually they use labor from local communities, which can be a good way to provide jobs and funding to people who live around the mines. Mining takes a lot of specialized equipment since the earth must be broken, dug up, and moved away without harming the diamonds trapped inside. While most diamonds are below ground on land, some are found beneath the ocean floor and must be mined using floating vessels. There are two main ways to mine diamonds; open pit mining and underground mining. Open pit mining is easier since it is done of the surface of the earth rather than below ground. It is hard to predict which type of mining is more suitable for a given site, so a lot of analysis must be done on the land around a site before anything begins. Diamond mining, like diamond exploration, is a very costly operation and can take many months or years to complete. De Beers operates mines in four different countries, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada, which allows them to bring in a large quantity of diamonds every year.
Diamond mining can have many negative impacts on the environment, particularly the area surrounding the mines. The challenge that is most often faced by companies who participate in diamond mining is land disturbance. Land disturbance is harmful to the environment because it disrupts the natural order of things. It may uproot thousands of plants and force hundreds of animals to vacate their homes. Most diamond mines require a large amount of land to be removed from where it was naturally laying, and cannot be put back or recovered in the same way. Companies that compete in the diamond industry are aware of this problem and do what they can to minimize it, but still some disturbance to the environment has occured.
Pictured above is an open pit diamond mine owned and operated by De Beers.