While the United States is the leader in diamonds purchased, there are relatively few diamonds actually mined domestically. There are numerous kimberlite pipes and lamproite pipes scattered from New York to Wyoming and Michigan to Arkansas, there are currently only two active diamond mines in the country.
The Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine, which straddles the Colorado-Wyoming State line, began production in 1996. It was North America’s first large-scale commercial diamond mine. Production is from one of several kimberlite pipes of Devonian age in the State Line district of Colorado and Wyoming where open pit mining is used extracting the kimberlite ore. During this open pit mining, much of the ore is removed with land movers and shovels, loaded into trucks and carried to the processing area. The largest diamond found so far is 28.3 carats, and about 25% of the 20,000-carat annual production is of gem quality.
Kelsey Lake, the United States’ only commercial producing diamond mine, is now owned by McKenzie Bay International, Ltd, a Canadian mining company, and is operated by McKenzie’s local subsidiary, Great Western Diamond Co.
Crater of Diamonds
Located just 2.5 miles south southeast of Murfreesboro, Arkansas, diamonds were discovered in 1906 by a local farmer/prospector. The lamproite pipe was mined from 1910 through 1929 and was a private tourist attraction from the 1950s to 1972, when it was sold to the state and converted into Crater of Diamonds State Park.
It has been estimated that over 100,000 diamonds have been recovered from the 35 acre plowed field. This site holds the record for the two largest diamonds found in North America; The Uncle Sam (40.23 carats rough) and the Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats rough). Since it became a state park in 1972 over 20,000 stones have been recovered by tourists and local diggers.
Recently, there has been renewed interest in commercial mining in the Crater of Diamonds area. North Star Diamonds is considering Arkansas for further exploration opportunities. Company president Walter Stunder traveled to Arkansas in February and to look at the potential diamond-bearing locations and acquired right to first refusal on 120 acres of land in Arkansas, near Murfreesboro. Samples are now in Vancouver, British Columbia, for testing on diamond and indicator mineral results.. From past experience, Stunder feels there should be other craters in the area besides the Crater of Diamonds, as lamproite pipes are normally spread over a large area.
In early March, North Star hired Kings Consulting of Winslow, Arkansas to consult on an exploration program. Jack and Maria King have performed geological work for several diamond exploration companies but are especially well suited for this project because Jack grew up in Murfreesboro, the area now being targeted.