Mirny (which means ‘Peaceful’ in Russian, by the way) has a population of approximately 40,000 people. It was founded in 1955 to support the construction of the Mirny Diamond Mine, and even today, the mine (now run by Alrosa) remains the town’s largest employer. At last count, Alrosa employed 3,600 people.
Take a look at the picture with this article, and you can see the massive size of the mine, and get an impression of why so many people from Mirny work in the mine.
For almost fifty years, the Mirny Mine has been a massive producer of Russian diamonds. It was originally founded so that the Soviet Union could have a domestic source of diamonds to support its growing postwar industry, and the insatiable needs of the country’s military. However, it was quickly realised that diamonds could be exported abroad for a large profit, and it wasn’t long before the many gem quality diamonds that were being mined were exported – the Soviet Union even organised a secret deal with diamond merchants De Beers to facilitate this trade.
Today, the open cast mine is closed, but the underground mine remains, and it is anticipated that this mine will continue in operation for at least the next 25 years, securing the town’s short term future at least. Although, given that so many people work at the mine, Mirny faces an uncertain future when it finally does close.
In all other respects, the city of Mirna is a sleepy, if fairly well off, Soviet town. It has all the usual facilities that you would expect – a small polytechnic, churches, parks, a central square. It’s main hotel – the Zarnitsa – is reasonably well appointed. Because of its location next to the world’s largest diamond mine, and because of its remoteness, Mirny also has a small airport.