Heera @ Panna

While today South African diamonds are the best known in the world, Panna was the oldest diamond mine. Legend has it that diamonds have been found in this strain for nearly 3,000 years, some say 6,000 years.


By Journey Man
When you travel, you can restrict yourself to history and nature, but geographical wonders are also a great draw. If you have decided to go and visit the Panna Tiger Reserve, try and visit t he diamond mines nearby. That will be a different type of travel.

One of the most famous diamonds ever found in India is now not in India. It is the 105.6 carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. It was discovered, most possibly in the 12th century, from the Kollur Mine (located in Andhra Pradesh). That are is among the three regions from where diamonds are found in India. The biggest of the mines, of course, is in Panna in Madhya Pradesh.

The Koh-I-Noor was stolen from India by the British when they ruled India under Queen Victoria in 1849 and was transported to Britain shortly after.

Today, the diamond is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.

The governments of India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all claimed ownership of the Kohinoor and demanded its return ever since India gained independence in 1947. However, the British government insists the gem was obtained legally and has rejected the claims.

That is another story, of politics and sheer greed, but while today South African diamonds are the best known in the world today, Panna was the oldest diamond mine. Legend has it that diamonds have been found in this strain for nearly 3,000 years.

Also large diamonds have been found in this region in the past.

Not many years back a Madhya Pradesh farmer found an 11.88-carat diamond worth Rs 50 lakh in the Panna mines. The diamond was auctioned at the money was be given to the farmer after deducting royalty and tax.

The farmer, named Pratap Singh Yadav, found the diamond from a mine in the Patti area in the district.

The information in this regard was given to the media by diamond officer Ravi Patel. “I am a poor man with a small agricultural land. I also work as a labourer. I have been working hard in this mine for the past three months and got this diamond and deposited it to the diamond office,” the farmer said.

The farmer said that the money which he would receive from the auction of the diamond would be used for the education of his children and for setting up a business.

That was not the first find. Earlier a resident of Panna town found a 26.11-carat diamond in a mine in the district. The man had a small scale brick kiln business.

Panna is old. Those were the days when diamonds were mined only in India and the rest of the world had nothing, not in South Africa or Brazil. Of course, the concentration of diamonds in mines of those countries is huge.

Panna is India’s largest diamond mine. The quarry mines are on a branch of the Vindhachal mountain range. The only organized product of diamond in India is from the Mazagon mine located in Panna.

India used to be the only source of diamonds for more than 3000 years. Then there were no diamond deposits in Brazil and South Africa. Excavations are going on continuously since the 17th century from the mines located in Panna. The mining of diamonds is done by the National Mineral Development Corporation.

In India, the diamond resources are concentrated only in three states. Of these, Madhya Pradesh has 90.17 percent at 28,709,136 carats, followed by Andhra Pradesh has 5.73 percent with 1,822,955 carats and Chhattisgarh has 4.10 percent with 1,304,000 carats, according to Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) inventory report.

“The total resources of diamond in the country as on 1.4.2015 are estimated at 31,836,091 carats with 756,765 carats gem grade, 840,823 carats industrial grade and 30,238,503 carats unclassified grade. Of these, 959,659 carats (3.01 percent) fall under the reserve category, and the balance 30,876,432 carats (96.98 percent) are remaining resources,” the report said.

Only Madhya Pradesh state of India has 90.18% diamond reserves. All diamonds are produced from the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

The only source

India was the only place to get high quality diamonds for all the countries of the world. According to experts, there is a huge storage belt of diamonds from the Vindhachal mountain range of Madhya Pradesh from Panna district to Satna district. Mazagon diamond mine is located 20 km south of Panna district and 63 km away from Khajuraho.

This place is present near the Hinauta entrance of Panna Tiger Reserve. Hero’s excavation work is already being done here before the construction of Panna Tiger Reserve. Hero’s excavation is done by National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). NMDC’s diamond mine is the only mechanized diamond mine in the country. According to the National Mineral Development Corporation, the annual capacity of Mazgaon mine located in Panna is up to 84,000 carats. According to NMDC, a total of 10,05,064 carats of diamonds have been extracted from this mine so far.

The mining capacity of the NMDC in the region is currently 84,000 carats per year. The NMDC claims that approximately 1,005,064 carat diamonds have been recovered from diamond mining in the area so far. NDMC Panna is the only diamond mine in the country with more than 74 hectares of mechanised mining. However, small mines of Panna are open cast mines that use traditional techniques and hand tools.

“The process in the small open cast mines involves four steps – digging, collecting soil mixed with small stones, washing the soil away with a lot of water, and finding diamonds from those small stones. We need to break big rocks with hand tools to get small stones. Finding a diamond is not easy, and it may take a lifetime for a person to find a single piece of the most precious stone,” Kishori Yadav, who operates a small mine in Krishna Kalyanpur village, explained.

Digging 100 tonnes of clay in Mazagon mine yields a 10-carat diamond. Some private companies are also digging in the diamond mines of Panna district. In diamond mining, government companies remove diamonds from the machine in the kimberlite pipe (strip) by a big machine. Extracted by National Mineral Development Corporation based in Mazagon. The most valuable diamond was worth Rs 1 crore or more. Along with diamonds, stone and fire clay are also found in large quantities in Panna district.

Private companies present in Panna district are mostly dependent on labour for diamond mining. Heavy and better technology machines are available in government mining companies. NMDC also leases out these mines to private companies with 700 plots of (8×8) ft. About 6000 to 7000 people work in these small mines.

Most diamond mines were in the 1860s. It was found up to Sakaria, about 32 kilometers (20 mil ) from Panna.

There are four types of diamonds coming out of the emerald mine.

  • Motichool: Moticul which is clear and brilliant to see.
  • Ruby: Ruby This diamond is a light orange colour.
  • Emerald: These diamonds are green in colour and in tint.
  • Bansput: These diamonds are of sepia colour.

Big pits are dug to excavate these heroes. Whose diameter is about 25 feet and the depth of 30 feet. For the mining of diamonds, any private company or other person or farmer takes land on lease and digs

The diamond extracted by him is deposited by the District Magistrate of Panna. Then these diamonds are auctioned. These heroes are charged a fair price. More than 100 diamonds of various carats and colours are made into sapphires.

History has it that in the year 1827, Captain Franklin first reported the Majhgawan pipe as diamond bearing followed by Sinor who identified the kimberlite pipe rock of Majhgawan in 1930 and furnished petrographic details.

Post Indian independence, The Geological Survey of India’s (GSI) investigation established the mineralogical characters, dimensions of the pipe and its diamond-bearing potential. Panna Diamond Mining Syndicate, a private company, took up mining for a short stint till 1959. Later, in 1966 the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) , a Government of India Enterprise, undertook mining activity. It is estimated that more than 1 million carats of diamond have been produced till today from this mine.

In 1956, GSI carried out bulk sampling tests on 40 tonnes of samples from which an average of 12.79 cpht (carat per hundred tonnes) was recovered from 9 bulk samples. Later, NMDC further deepened the pits in 1959 and re-estimated an overall average of 9.73cpht.

Mining commenced by NMDC in 1966 and regular production began in 1968 in the Majhgawan open pit. Two shafts of up to a depth of 96m and three dirves at an interval of 66m excavated in 1966. Treatment of 7709 tonnes of the pipe rock yielded a grade of 8.45cpht.  From certain prospective and potential area an average 10cpht of production have been projected. It is found that there is higher concentration of diamonds in the centre of the pipe at the yellow tuff and red lapilli area than in the peripheral contact zone, which is enriched in carbonate veins and xenoliths of country rocks. On an average, the core portion of the pipe yielded 13 -14 cpht dropping to 6-7 cpht in the periphery. The bulk treatment of the samples indicated a slight fall in overall yield at depth compared to the samples collected from the surface.

The present mine pit is about 80m deep and kimberlite is now mined exclusively by opencast mechanized mining. That is, about 10m high benches are developed and operate from the centre and then move towards the periphery of the pipe.

The Diamond Mining Project at Majhgawan – Panna commenced production of diamond in 1971-72. The Majhgawan Diamond Pipe is located at about 15 km from the Panna town in the south-west direction. This project happens to be the only mechanized diamond mine in the country. The Project is equipped with the facilities of Ore Processing Plant including heavy media separation unit, X-ray sorter for diamond separation and disposal system for tailings generated.

NMDC has developed a small Township at Majhgawan. This Township is equipped with all necessary facilities like School, Hospital, Guest House and playing ground.

NMDC acquired Heavy Media Separation (HMS) plant of 50 tonnes per hour capacity in 1994.  The plant was equipped with crushing mechanism, HMS and X-ray sorter units to produce about 100,000 carat per year. The kimberlite mined is subject to two stages of crushing with primary and secondary crushers.

The fine material of less than 1 mm is pumped out in a slurry form and the coarser 1-20mm size material is transported through conveyor belts to the two hoppers of 50 tonnes per hour capacity to HMS. While the floats of HMS are rejected, the dried diamond bearing concentrates are dried passed through magnetic separators. The non-magnetic concentrates are passed through x-ray sorters and grease tables to recover the final product – diamonds.

It is estimated that about 2-7 lakh tonnes of kimberlite ore is treated and about 10000 to 80000 carat of diamond are being produced from the Majhgawan mine annually. The overall average grades worked out to around 10 carats per every hundred tonnes of ore.

The diamonds of Mahjgawan pipes are mostly transparent, free from flaws, have good crystal faces and occur in combination of right-faced crystals (octahedron) and twelve-faced crystals (dodecahedron) forming sharp edges. Mostly Twinned crystals and flat crystals found here and the diamonds from this area are considered to be very high quality. On an average, the rough uncut diamonds of Majhgawan are priced at US$200 per carat, the highest cost in the world during that time.

It is computed that nearly 1/3 of the diamonds recovered from Majhgawan pipe are of gem variety. The general size of diamonds are 0.22 -1.78 carats with an average of 0.5 carat. The largest gem recovered from this pipe till now weighs 34.37 carat. Another 30.33 carat diamond of gem quality is also reported to have been recovered. The main productive zone measured 320x280m covering an area of about 6.5 hectare.

The Hinota kimberlite pipe, discovered by the GSI, occurs about 3 km North-West of Majhgawan. It is an almost circular shaped body measuring 200x180m at the surface and elongated in northwest and southeast directions. The body is capped by 2.5m soil with detritus material. Below that there is 25m thick earthy yellow and greenish clayey horizon. Typical blue ground is encountered upto a depth of about 70m grading onto massive hard compact kimberlite.

Here, the rock is mainly micaceous kimberlite grading into that of kimberlite breccia at depth, mineralogically similar to that of Majhgawan. Drilling investigation carried out established that the kimberlite body is more than 160m deep. A shaft sunk to the depth of 18.5m has exposed dark grey clayey horizon with concretions upto 2m, highly weathered kimberlite body grading to massive rock.

Besides these 2 main pipes, a number of diamond bearing locations and ultramafic bodies similar to that of kimberlite are found around Panna town. The Madhya Pradesh State Mining Officer allots plots to locals for digging and recovering diamonds with certain terms and conditions.

Several diamond bearing localities are found in the vicinity of the conglomerate and ultramafic bodies. Though the rock exposures at the surface are scanty, the wide extent of the potential area reported to have incidence of diamonds indicates that there is ample scope for discovering new concealed larger kimberlite bodies.