There’s a new, silent diamond rush going on in Brazil. In late 2016, a new mine was discovered in the city of Nordestina, in the state of Bahia. It could increase Brazil’s diamond production by up to ten times and place the country among the world’s top 11 producers.
This group, of course, is by no means large. But the 21 nations producing diamonds have earned roughly $13 billion in 2015 alone.
During the 18th century, Brazil was the world leader in diamond extraction. Today, though, the South American giant represents only 0.02 percent of the world’s production – 19th worldwide.
The new Nordestina mine could reach its peak by 2020, producing 400,000 carats – which would propel Brazil to the 11th position in the ranking. In 2015, the world produced a total of 127 million carats. Belgian and South African investors have quickly operated to extract primary diamond in Brazil.
The Diamond Brazil Project, carried out by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, has found 1,344 kimberlites in 23 mining fields. Kimberlites are rocks best-known for containing rough diamonds.
The Brazilian diamond can be very attractive to international markets, as the country is not experiencing civil or religious wars. The national production follows the Kimberley certification process – a sort of traceability certificate. But, like in many other economic sectors, bureaucracy is holding back market expansion.
Brazil’s diamond exports must undergo a complicated approval process. An auditor from the National Mining Research Department (DNPM) weighs, measures and analyzes diamonds. Then, the DNPM director must sign off on the documents.
The institution, however, has not fully entered the 21st century and doesn’t have electronic-based systems. All documents must be sent by mail – which takes up to 15 business days for approval.
Back in September 2015, a WhatsApp prank initiated a gold rush in Western Brazil. Someone began sending a photo of a glass of beer sitting atop a giant golden rock, visual ‘proof’ of an enormous newfound goldmine. In a span of a few months, about 7,000 people undertook this quest for gold in the city of Pontes e Lacerda.
Most of these miners have left empty-handed, and only a lucky few will be able to sell some grams of gold for a couple of thousand dollars. All of them, though, have lost a lot of money. In some cases, they’ve even lost all of it. The guys behind the WhatsApp joke should probably keep a low profile for awhile.