Science | July 12, 2017 11:49 am

Diamond Miners Digging Higher and Higher for a Lucrative Haul

With global shortage of gems looming, miners are getting more adventurous.

Would You Scale an 11,000-Foot Mountain for a Multimillion-Dollar Diamond Haul?
Motselisi Khasake from Lesotho in southern Africa, holds a 76.41-carat flawless diamond at Graff diamond jewelers, in London in 2007. The diamond was cut from the 15th largest diamond (603-carat) in the world called The 'Lesotho Promise.' The Lesotho Promise was found at the Letseng Diamond Mine in Lesotho, a kingdom surrounded by South Africa. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Would you climb an 11,000-foot mountain and brave freezing temperatures if you knew there were diamonds in it for you?

That’s exactly what a brave group of diamond miners are doing in the impoverished country of Lesotho, according to the Wall Street Journal. Diamonds can be found atop the Maluti mountains, where temperatures can crater to 30 degrees below zero—with a windchill factor to boot.

Why all the added risk? There’s a global diamond shortage. The mountainous region has largely been untouched by traditional mining companies, who would’ve had to pump major resources into the highly risky endeavor. Also, the quality of the diamonds mined in the region tends to be higher—and could be as much as 20 times the global average.

For example, the Letseng mine’s diamonds have commanded prices as high as $2,000 a carat—as well as four of the largest diamonds ever discovered.

Clearly, it’s a multi-million-dollar equation.

“It’s a mine that mines a jewelry box,” Clifford Elphick, CEO of the company that oversees the Letseng mine, told the Journal.