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India was the first known source of diamonds. There is evidence that alluvial diamonds were being extracted as far back as 800 B.C. Until the discovery of South African diamonds in the 19th century, all previous known diamond sources were secondary. That is, the diamonds were not found in their original host rock.
Mining Regions in IndiaCuddapah: This is the most southern of the Indian diamond fields, on the banks of the Penner River. The most famous mine in the area is the Chinon. In the 19th century, mining was resumed, and several good finds were reported near Chennur. Diamonds were found in river beds at Condapetta and Woblapully.
Two of the most important mines in the region were Munimadagu and Wayra Karur, which is the reputed source of several of India's most famous stones.
Nandial: The Nandial mining region is some 20 km north of the Cuddapah region, closer to the Kistna River. Two of the better known mines in the region were Banganapalli and Ramulkota.
Golconda: This ancient mining area was home to the renowned mine at Kollur, the source of several of the world's legendary stones. Raolconda, of Tavernier fame, was also in the region.
Soumelpour: The mine at Hira Kund Island, on the Mahanadi River is the best known of the mines in the region. In 1809, it produced a 210.6 carat stone. Another important mine is Chutia Nagpur, which in the 16th and 17th centuries was the source of several large diamonds.
Panna: Although Tavernier journeyed near this region, the account of his travels did not mention whether the mines were in operation. Old diggings can still be seen at Ramkheria, Hinota, Shahidan, Majhgavan and Angore. Panna is at present the only region in India where mining of significance is being carried out.
Mining Activity in IndiaIndia is today a prominent member of the diamond community, but mainly as a manufacturing and trading center. Its mining activity is small in terms of world production.
The bulk of mining is in the Panna area in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Diamond rough is recovered from the nationalized mines of Majhgavan and Ramkheria, and is sold by auction by the National Minerals Development Corporation.
Output at the Panna mines is some 18,000 carats a year. Its rough is said to be 40% gem quality, 40% near gem quality, and 20% industrial. The rough is relatively large, reputed to have a faint tint, and is said to have a slightly lower specific gravity than South African stones.
Diamonds are also recovered by independent sub contractors, or thekadars. Their goods are auctioned, and they receive the proceeds after a 30% royalty has been deducted by the state and federal governments.
The long term prospects for the mines are bleak. The Ramkheria Mine is practically exhausted, and the Majhgavan Mine needs to be automated to become cost effective.
Diamonds are still mined in Andhra Pradesh at Cuddapah. Other alluvial deposits have been found at Orissa in Hirakud, although mining has yet to begin. More recently, the government of Rajasthan announced a survey at Ksarpura, in the Pratapgarh area of the Chittorgarh.
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