Not only was Stalin a murderous tyrant, he also imposed strict industrial targets upon the Soviet Union, many of which had significant environmental consequences, (the disappearance of the Aral Sea due to Soviet irrigation projects is one such example).
The excavation at the Mirny diamond mine began in 1955 and it is now the second largest manmade hole in the world, surpassed only by the Bingham Copper Mine in Utah.
Stalin ordered the construction of the mine in an effort to satisfy the USSR’s need for industrial-grade diamonds following WW2. Today it is 1,722 feet (525 meters) deep, and 3,900 feet (1.25 kilometers) across.
Mirny is a small unassuming town in eastern Siberia. Located in the region of the infamous Soviet Gulags, many prisoners of the state were sent here to do the hazardous and gruelling work of excavating the mine.
However, the harsh, frozen Siberian landscape made working on the mine difficult for all of those involved. Technicians would order in jet engines to blast hot air onto the permafrost. Explosives were also used.
The mine did reap benefits for the Union however. During its peak years of operation, over 10 million carats of diamonds a year were mined from Mirny, over 20% of which were of gem-quality.
Open pit mining ceased in the area a long time ago, however the still demanding work does continue underground. To this day, (if you can get close enough) it is still possible to see 20-foot tall rock-hauling trucks traveling along a precarious road that spirals down from the lip of the hole to its basin.