On a recent trip to Russia, I spent three days in Mirny with Alrosa.
I saw the world's second-largest manmade pit, experienced 20 hours of sunlight each day, and saw how the town's buildings are built elevated above the ground because it's not feasible to dig into the permafrost, which can reach up to 450 feet deep.
Deep in Siberia, about 280 miles from the Arctic Circle, is a town that's been called a "mono-city" because so much of the population works for a single company. That company is Alrosa, the world's largest diamond miner by volume.
Mirny is a town of about 40,000 people that's home to Alrosa's headquarters and close to several of its diamond mines.Advertisement
I recently traveled to Russia and spent three days in Mirny. Here's what the town looks like.
Mirny is a Russian town located deep in northeastern Siberia, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) from the Arctic Circle.
The Sakha Republic is known for its extreme climate. The average temperature in January is -46 degrees Fahrenheit (-43.5 degrees Celsius).
Mirny has been a diamond mining town since the 1950s.
The Mir mine is the second-largest manmade pit in the world.
On a recent trip to Russia, I traveled to Yakutia to spend three days in Mirny.
I flew to Mirny from Moscow. It was a five-and-a-half-hour journey — about the time it takes to fly from New York City to Los Angeles.
The Mirny airport was one of the smallest I've ever been in.
Mirny has been called a "mono-city" because most of its 40,000 residents work in the diamond industry.
As only two of Alrosa's diamond mines are within driving distance of Mirny, many miners get on a plane to go to work for a two-week shift in the mine.
But not all of Alrosa's employees are miners.
Although I mostly saw families in Mirny, I did see a few people who appeared to be in their 20s. Some may have been students at the Mirny Polytechnic Institute, a branch of Russia's North-Eastern Federal University, where students can prepare for future careers in the diamond industry.
Buildings in Mirny are built elevated above the ground because it isn't feasible to dig into the permafrost.
When I visited in June, Mirny had about 20 hours of daylight each day.
In my hotel room, the curtains did little to block out the bright sunlight.
The sun started to set around 11:00 p.m., but it never really seemed to get dark.
Mirny didn't seem particularly well equipped to accommodate tourists.
Mirny has a handful of restaurants, ranging from traditional Yakutian cuisine to pizza, Thai, and sushi.
Mirny has a diamond mining museum and a sports center, but I didn't notice much else in the way of cultural activities or entertainment.
I did see some playgrounds and quite a few children in town.
Mirny displays its diamond mining heritage in the form of sculptures. This one portrays pioneers of the diamond industry in Mirny, one riding a reindeer.
I also saw a sculpture of a woolly mammoth, the Ice Age creatures that once roamed Yakutia.
Mirny is surrounded by forests, rivers, and lakes.
Growing up with an image in my mind of a perpetually frigid Siberia, I was surprised by how warm it was in Mirny. It got well above 70 degrees Fahrenheit every day I was there, and if I hadn't worn sunscreen, I would've gotten burned.
As Mirny is the center of Russia's diamond industry, I was surprised to see that much of the infrastructure appeared quite old.