5 Top Industrial Diamond-producing Countries

5 Top Industrial Diamond-producing CountriesWhile the average person is only familiar with diamonds in the context of jewelry, the world's hardest substance has applications well outside the world of fashion. In fact, about 80 percent of mined diamonds are unsuitable for gemstone use, according to Minerals.net. Called industrial diamonds, these gems are used to create super-durable cutting tools or abrasives, and represent the majority of the diamond trade.

Industrial diamonds are not only abundant, but also in high demand. In fact, the US Geological Survey (USGS) anticipates that moving forward demand for such diamonds will only continue to rise in the US and around the world — the organization sees the expansion of infrastructure projects that require slicing through asphalt and other hard surfaces bolstering trade.

However, increased demand may not result in higher prices for the diamonds. That's because industrial diamonds are often synthetic, and production techniques for the synthetic diamonds used in industrial applications are becoming less expensive.

In terms of why industrial diamonds are generally synthetic, the USGS states that synthetic industrial diamonds are favored over natural industrial diamonds as their quality can be controlled, allowing organizations to tweak them to their specific needs. Indeed, in the US alone, 97 percent of industrial diamonds used are synthetic.

China produces the most synthetic industrial diamonds, putting out 4 billion carats last year, as per the USGS. The US is one of the world's largest producers and consumers of industrial diamonds, and US organizations created 180 million carats of synthetic industrial diamonds in 2014. There are also several companies in the US and elsewhere that recover used industrial diamonds. In the past year, their activities yielded 38.4 million carats of secondary production.

As the above information makes clear, the vast majority of the industrial diamond trade centers on synthetic diamonds; however, natural diamonds still hold a place in the industry. Here are the five top natural industrial diamond-producing countries of 2014, using statistics from the USGS.

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)

Mine production: 18 million carats

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is known for its incredible mineral deposits; however, the country is also home to widespread corruption and political turmoil, issues that gave birth to the term "conflict minerals." Essentially, much of the DRC's diamond production comes from rebel-owned mines that do not adhere to global standards for labor or human rights. The workers in these mines are treated like slaves and the money brought in by diamonds produced there is used to fund further rebel actions, MBendi Information Services states.

What all that means is that while the DRC is the largest producer of industrial diamonds based on publicly available data, that information probably understates the country's actual diamond output. Nonetheless, it's worth noting that according to USGS figures, industrial diamond production in the DRC increased by 5 million carats in 2014, hitting 18 million carats. The country possesses the world's second-largest known diamond reserves, with 150 million carats of industrial diamonds untapped.

2. Russia

Mine production: 15 million carats

Russia's industrial diamond production fell by 2 million carats in 2015, but it remains a top industrial diamond producer. The country is currently investigating the Popigai Astroblem, a meteorite crater that contains more diamonds than the rest of the world's reserves combined, The Christian Science Monitor notes. According to Russian scientists, these diamonds are particularly hard and ideal for industrial use; that said, Engineering and Mining Journal points out that they may nevertheless be less appealing than synthetic options.

3. Australia

Mine production: 10 million carats

Australia's diamond production is heavily weighted toward lower-quality diamonds that are well suited to industrial applications, according to Australian Mines Atlas. The majority of the country's diamond reserves are located in the Arglye deposit, which is operated by global mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIONYSE:RIO). Since operations began in the 1980s, the Argyle mine has produced over 800 million carats of rough diamonds.

4. Botswana

Mine production: 7 million carats

The economy of Botswana is tremendously dependent on the diamond trade, and the state mines diamonds under an agreement with privately held diamond giant De Beers,. The country holds 130 million carats worth of diamond reserves, and should remain a major player in the global production of industrial diamonds.

5. South Africa

Mine production: 5 million carats

South African industrial diamond production climbed by 3 million carats last year. That represents a rebound for the industry, which suffered during the global financial crisis, Mining Weekly states. The country has 70 million carats in known reserves, and could continue to rise as a source of industrial diamonds on the global stage.

5 Top Industrial Diamond-producing Countries from Diamond Investing News

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