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back to article It's not gold in the frozen hills of Antarctica, my boy, it's DIAMONDS

Boffins have uncovered evidence pointing to the presence of huge amounts of diamonds in the frozen mountain ranges of Antarctica. Researchers found three samples of a rock called kimberlite on Mount Meredith in the northern Prince Charles Mountains. This blue-tinted igneous rock often contains diamonds. Chunks of kimberlite are …

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Anonymous Coward

Is El Reg leafing through back issues of the Daily Mail or is this a low news day? Come on, this was in the paper days ago, even the BBC have got there quicker.

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The Reg isn't about breaking news tickers with poor coverage of things we don't know much about yet - it's more of a mix of that but a lot more analysis and often more insightful comment.

And they're all off on boozy Christmas lunches.

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not again

Every time I switch to the BBC news channel a red banner appears informing me the news is breaking. I wish they would just fix the ****ing thing.

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Black Helicopters

Good time to invest...

...in secure warehouses.

They'll have to store them all somewhere to keep prices artificially inflated!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good time to invest...

Reminds me of an article I read recently regarding 'chocolate' diamonds.

Lost the link, but it mentioned a few interesting points.

1) Diamonds have no intrinsic value. After all, what use are they? They are even sold with a large mark-up, so not a great investment as it will have a low resale value.

2) Diamonds were not even part of engagement rings till someone put a nice marketing spin on it and suggested your other half should wear something that costs 2-3 months salary.

3) Brown diamonds are the most common, and the least worth as they are not as clear and bright as the rest. But all that brightness and clarity stuff was brought in to inflate the price by making a subset so rare among the other diamonds. Now marketing has got on board with the brown ones and selling them as "Chocolate" diamonds.

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Anonymous Coward

Diamonds have no intrinsic value. After all, what use are they?

Are they not used on diamond tipped blades and stuff, used in a variety of industrys?

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Boffin

Sort of

1) It is true that diamonds are not rare, and that the jewelry "value" is completely artificial due to the De Beers diamond cartel. The cartel had to operate outside of the US until 2001 due to it's violating US antitrust laws. Former CIA chief, Admiral Stansfield Turner, claimed that De Beers restricted US access to industrial diamonds needed for the country's war effort during World War II. As Turner's statement indicates, diamonds have considerable industrial uses as polishing grits. Diamond grit is slightly harder than silicon carbide grit and much harder than alumina (aluminum oxide) grit.

2) True, that was part of Cecil Rhodes (who founded De Beers in the late 1800's) marketing campaign.

3) Most diamonds mined are used for industrial purposes, not jewelery. Since diamond is a rather common gem stone with an industrial use, the fact that most diamonds mined are not "gem quality" does not matter much. Remember, the whole reason the cartels limit the number of diamonds on the market is because even though gem quality diamonds are rare compared to non-gem quality, diamond is so common a mineral that not restricting the gem quality ones would cause their value to plummet to a fraction of their present value.

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Re: Good time to invest...

Don Draper is such an amateur compared to De Beers.

Americans traditionally bought smaller, lower quality diamonds than Europeans and then only the wealthiest part of the population. Solution, give diamonds to movie stars and suggest the giving of a diamond ring was necessary for an engagement in the plot. Soon, a diamond engagement ring - preferably on from De Beers - became associated with romance. This was repeated in Japan and now in China by prominent adverts showing beautiful women (wearing diamonds) pursuing Western lifestyles rather than traditional, tragically diamondless lives.

They seeded the press with stories about the size of diamonds given to the rich and famous, ensure members of the royal family visit diamond mines and receive diamonds from De Beers. All accompanied by lovely photographs of course.

Post war, De Beers sent 'educators' into American schools to teach girls about diamonds and their history. At the same time they invented a new colour 'diamond white' which was associated with only the highest value diamonds.

Their slogan, 'A diamond is forever' - not so much a statement of its stability, but implying that it would be wrong to sell a diamond you've been given so promoting new diamond sales rather than old ones.

Too many small, low-quality diamonds from the Soviet Union threatening to disrupt the market or off-cuts of gemstones which would otherwise go to industry? Sign an agreement to act as the sole supplier to the West of Soviet stones and invent the eternity ring. Size isn't important, but a 'perfect' diamond is.

God only knows what they're dreaming up now.

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GBE

Re: Diamonds have no intrinsic value. After all, what use are they?

> Are they not used on diamond tipped blades and stuff, used in a variety of industrys?

Industrial and "gem" diamonds aren't the same thing (well, they are chemically, but for all practical purposes they're two different commodities). For example, industrial diamonds are often synthetic (IIRC, 80-90 of diamond used

for abrasives is synthetic).

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Boffin

Re: Diamonds are a hymen's best replacement

"2) Diamonds were not even part of engagement rings till someone put a nice marketing spin on it and suggested your other half should wear something that costs 2-3 months salary."

More precicely, the modern concept of a diamond engagement ring was bought in after 'breach of promise to marry' laws went out, since in the olden days sex amongst pre-marital couples was just as common as today (irrespective of what the Daily Mail, and associated old fogies. would claim) and so in the abscence of legal backing to keep the guys honest, an innovative jewlery company came up with the concept of "if he isn't prepared to put up a deposit of 3-months salary on your virginity, then keep them legs together girl!". (Obviously they phrased it more delicately than that!)

So guys, if your girl demands a ring, make sure you are getting a fair return on that investment!

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J P
Windows

Re: Good time to invest...

"At the same time they invented a new colour 'diamond white' which was associated with only the highest value diamonds."

I have heard of 'Diamond White", but not quite in that context.

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Re: Diamonds are a hymen's best replacement

Hence the punchline to the old joke:

"We already know what you are. Now we're just negotiating a price."

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I rather hope that in another 27 years we've got cheaper ways to produce diamonds than crapping all over Antarctica

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Yes, I think we do. There probably is no reason why industry would prefer expensive natural diamonds over cheap synthetic ones. Also, if these diamonds aren't large enough, jewellers aren't going to be interested either.

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Linux

"I rather hope that in another 27 years we've got cheaper ways to produce diamonds than crapping all over Antarctica" -- Just buy some candles and get some free diamonds ... http://phys.org/news/2011-08-candle-flames-millions-tiny-diamonds.html

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We already have cheap diamonds. They only reason it's expensive is control over price/demand/supply.

It's all fiat/fake/imaginary. :/

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Fiat/fake/imaginary aren't controls on a market, those things are the market. It's a subtle, but crucial difference :)

Diamonds, like petroleum and most agricultural products, are expensive because their markets are completely controlled by people baying about free markets. They say they want free markets, but what they really want are one way markets, where price can go up, but rarely goes below a 'stabilized' threshold. That's why regulated goods have minimum prices set by law (in the US anyway). Every state has minimum allowed prices for milk, cheese, chicken eggs, mutton, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, grapes and citrus fruits. Some states have much, much longer lists. It's great as long as you aren't a consumer.

The whole practice of highly controlled natural resources is a holdover from pre-fiat currencies. In those economies the only way to create new wealth is through exploiting natural resources. As such those resources were highly regulated, much more so than now. You couldn't have people going off and digging up funds to destabilize your economy now could you :)

The thing is, if we're going to do fiat currencies (disclaimer: I think it's the right thing) then we need to do it. Not muck about half-in/half-out. Fiat currency eliminates the societal risks of uncontrolled wealth creation. So instead of being stuck where we're only getting the downsides of two economic theories, we should pick one and see how far it will take us. So far we haven't actually tried the fiat model. It's just lip service as long as natural resources are shielded from market pressures.

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Anonymous Coward

Banned until money

Oil tar sands, Alaskan drilling, AGW....fuck the planet; SHOW ME THE MONEY!

And so it will be with Antarctica. The "minnow" nations without the presence to mine there, or the military muscle to stop others, with bleat and bitch (e.g. the UK) but the other nations (USA, China etc) will go ahead. Some of these minnow nations will fall in line when then bosses tell them to (e.g. USA tells UK to shut it).

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Re: Banned until money

I did laugh at this bit:

" it's actually illegal to mine minerals from the Antarctic,"

'Illegal' becomes 'treaty' becomes 'agreement' becomes mining rights.

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Re: Banned until money

It's only illegal for the signatories to the Antarctic Treaty; the nearest sufficiently-rich non-signatory appears to be Indonesia, who aren't that bad at mining. Other rich non-signatories with mining industries are Mexico, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

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Re: Banned until money

'Illegal' becomes 'treaty' becomes 'agreement' becomes mining rights.

...and that is the path to the dark side.

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Re: Banned until money

I think you're being too kind to the UK, there's a reason the UK has staked a huge claim on Antarctica - and it isn't because we like penguins.

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Re: Banned until money

"The "minnow" nations without the presence to mine there, or the military muscle to stop others, with bleat and bitch (e.g. the UK) but the other nations (USA, China etc) will go ahead."

Except that the USA and PRC both signed that pesky treaty that prohibits exploiting the mineral resources of Antarctica.

Now, that said, I do recall a loophole wherein resources can be exploited for humanity as a whole.

Hanged if I can figure out how diamonds could do that. The only use for those is for specialty uses, industrial grit, high temperature semiconductor research (of course, those are man made diamonds), diamond anvil units, etc.

And as I mentioned, we now can manufacture diamonds in quantity. There's even an outfit in the US that will turn a few ounces of human cremains into diamond jewelry.

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No need to mine them for money

I thought that diamonds were only 'rare' because De Beers controlled the supply.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No need to mine them for money

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1992-07-12/

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-04-23/

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"amounts of diamonds"

huge amount of diamond

huge numbers of diamonds

huge quantity of diamonds

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Stuff the treaty!

The treaty isn't the reason that they shouldn't be mining diamonds in Antarctic mountains! Neither is the environment! The reason they shouldn't be going there is...

[transmission broken]

...

Ai Ai Cthulhu Ph'Tagen...

...

[transmission ends]

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"Sadly, even if the stones were viable, it's actually illegal to mine minerals from the Antarctic, which is an inhospitable and near-pristine wilderness."

"Sadly", really? "Luckily" would be more appropriate.

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Coat

Well you know,

jewelers Love to Craft....

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Facepalm

Re: Well you know,

That was terrible, have a downvote.

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Yeah good luck getting past the shoggoths

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Much like the Japanese and whaling

They won't mine them as such. Japan catches whales for 'research purposes' (does this whale have a tail? Yes it does, pass the wasabi), any nation wanting to upset DeBeers' cartel will start researching the proportion of diamond bearing Kimberlite in Antarctica, then helpfully clear up after itself.

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Re: Much like the Japanese and whaling

I thought it was: "How many whales can we kill before they are extinct?"

My mistake.

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Re: Much like the Japanese and whaling

I do not know anything about Japanese whaling, but would assume they focus on those breeds of whale that aren't in any danger of going extinct? (which is what we Norwegians do -- hunt animals that aren't near-extinction, except for wolves)

I realize Greenpeace tries very hard to paint a picture where all types of whale are on the brink of extinction, but GP is not a very reliable source of information.

Luckily, this is the only environmental protection cause where emotions have overtaken rational thought and science by evidence. Oh... wait... Bugger.

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Who needs a Pristine Penguin Playground ? ? ?

I say we get down there, build a nuke plant on a fault line....open some toxic waste dumps....strip mine....

cart the icebergs off to Saudi....after all....the article did say "wasteland"....

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Devil

Maybe a new country will rise..

One that only cares about exploitation without the guilt you silly asses are so afraid of! Maybe it will be a truly free nation that doesn't give a shit about international treaties, and allows the protection of one's personal safety and right to property - again UN-like you silly asses! I think I should like to live there despite the harsh environment - but I also realize that diamonds are only really worth $1.80 USD per carat. So no! I will not go there yet!

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Re: Maybe a new country will rise..

Without delving into mythology and legend, there's a reason no civilizations have sprung up down there: It's insanely inhospitable to Humans. We used to have a small facility in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and I thought I was prepared for a trip to Antarctica I was invited on by Lockheed (they used to exclusively manage the US programs there). I was dead fucking wrong.

It was fascinating from an engineering perspective. Nothing behaves like the books say it will. Metals experience a unique form of fatigue that doesn't occur in laboratories, fabrics fail in strange ways, motorized transportation is so failure prone it is almost a joke, and so on.

And although it is beautiful, you don't get to see much of it, effectively none of it. Even the 'long range' expeditions out of research stations are probably not much further away from base than the place where you get lunch at work.

Honestly, I'm glad large scale civilization is, for all intents and purposes, impossible right now. As a species we need to get a better handle on environmental issues before we go screwing Antarctica up. We have royally fucked up the tundra in Northern Alaska. You can watch the landscape there be changed by man year after year, and the damage can't be repaired. Given enough time and no Human interaction it would stabilize, but unlike a jungle or forest, it won't go back to its original state. Ever.

I would hate to see that happen in Antarctica because of greed, there's too much to learn once we have the tech to do it responsibly. Maybe it'll just be diamonds, maybe it'll be a new form of life, maybe it'll be Cthulhu, but I would like to find out before we scooped them in a ship headed to be processed in China.

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good job you can buy 600 ton presses on alibaba, put some heat pipes through to heat it up and your rolling

if all else fails, get a 29,000 hydralic ton press

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