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Small but Select: The Story of Tanzanian Diamonds

Tanzania is a country in Eastern Africa and, though moderately abundant in gold, has only one major diamond mine – the Williamson mine.

The Williamson Diamond Mine, the first major diamond mine established outside of South Africa, is an open-pit mine located 160 kilometers south of Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. Williamson began operations in 1940, which makes it one of the oldest continuously operating diamond mines in the world. Today, most of the mine is owned by Petra, who bought its 75% share from De Beers in 2008; the remainder is still owned by the government.

The mine’s peak production was in 1966, when it yielded over 900,000 carats; nowadays, Williamson diamond mine averages about 100,000 carats annually, In 2013, Tanzania announced that Williamson contains contains a resource pegged at nearly 40 million carats

Some of the most impressive stones removed from the mine include a 54-carat flawless pink diamond that was given to then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip for their wedding in 1947, as well as a 388-carat diamond found in 1990. In December 2015, Petra Diamonds announced the recovery of exceptional 23.16 carat pink diamond, later sold for $10,050,000.

Tanzania is a member of Kimberley’s Artisanal and alluvial working group since 2006. According to the KP website, the country produced 253,180.25 carats in 2014, with a value of $80,668,041.77.

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