DIAMONDS AT MWADUI – WILLIAMSON MINES
Diamonds are by far the most important minerals being mined in Tanzania. Tanzania has been a significant diamond producer for several decades, with the bulk of production coming from the Williamson Diamonds mine at Mwadui where commercial production began in 1925.
Willianson Diamonds mine located on central plateau of the Northwest of Shinyanga,142km from Mwanza and 27km from Shinyanga. It covers an area of 146 hectares.
The diamond bearing rock has out cropped pipes at Mwadui and is one of the largest in the world. In diamond bearing rocks are known as Kimberlites and there is over 300 Kimberlites known in Tanzania of which 20% are diamond ferrous. The diamond bearing rocks are near the Earth’s surface therefore open cast method is used to extract the diamonds.
Method of mining and processing of diamonds
- Open cast method is used on the surface i.e. Heavy excavators are used to dig the rock ores out. Heavy buckets crush and scrub the ore.
- Ores are loaded on the Heavy Lorries and rail wagons and transport the Ores to crushing station where the rocks are broken and loaded on the conveyor belts which carry them to treatment plants.
- The Ores are then passed through water separators where heavy diamonds sink to the bottom.
- The coarse matter is passed over grease covered belts to which diamonds stick.
- Waste materials are removed electronically and diamonds remains behind.
Uses of Diamond
- making Jewell (Gemstone)
- Cutting glass,
- Drilling of hard rock to sink pipes in the oil wells.
Factors which favoured the development of the Williamson mines at Mwadui
- Presence of large deposits of diamonds in North West Tanzania at Mwadui in Shinyanga province.
- The Nearness of the minerals to the earth’s surface has made their extraction easy by use of open cast method of mining.
- The Nature of the terrain/ land scape in North West Tanzania is gently rolling landscape (Central Plateau) which has favoured the construction of the Transport and communication networks and eased the mining of the diamonds.
- The mineral is of high quality or grade therefore great demand for diamonds on the international market because they are used for a wide range of purpose like cutting glass drilling of hard rocks.Diamonds are exported to England, German & Spain.
- Improved transport networks like railways and roads which facilitate the transportation of Machinery, diamond products and workers.
- Availability of adequate capital provided by the Tanzanian government and De Beers family of Companies.
- The nature of the diamonds. The diamonds are dense, hard and repel wastes hence easy extraction of minerals from the rest of wastes.
- Peaceful and stable political environment in Tanzania.
- Constant supply of food stuffs to mine workers since the mines are located in regions which receive moderate rainfall with fairly the fertile soils.