June 13, 1955 ◊ ◊ ◊ “Smoking the peace pipe, excellent tobacco”… With these words Soviet geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina and Viktor Avdeenko announced the discovery of the USSR’s biggest diamond deposit, the Mir kimberlite pipe (“mir” meaning “peace” in Russian).
A town was developed on the brink of the mine. First, buildings had to be raised on piles, so that they would not sink in summer as seven months of frozen-winter-ground turned into sludge. Now a whole city sprouts against the gravitational force of the funnel. Mirny Town is just below the Arctic Circle, average –40 Celsius, and strictly off limits to outsiders without a special permit. Alrosa, one of the key players on the global jewelry market, is based in this industrial center.
This inverted monumental construction is one of the hot buttons of Russian economy. This funnel has an edge over which it is impossible to look. Ironically, abyss seems to evoke peace.