Why Diamond Mining’s Environmental Impact Matters

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When you purchase a piece of jewelry, do you check where the gemstones come from and how they’re mined? Mining is the only method to retrieve them, and diamond mining process almost always leaves destruction and devastation in its wake.

There’s never been a better time to invest in ethical diamond solutions that provide safe, sustainable mining methods for workers and their communities.

The Diamond Mining Process

Diamond Mining Process

Unlike other types of mining (like gold cyanidation), diamond mining doesn’t use chemicals. So while there is less associated environmental harm, there are still serious short- and long-term risks with the four diamond mining processes:

1. Open Pit Mining

Layers of earth and rock are first removed and the ore beneath is blasted to allow for removal. The rough material is loaded onto trucks and transported to an industrial crusher.

2. Underground Mining

Also known as “hard rock mining”, two levels of tunnels are dug deep into the earth’s crust and connected by funnels. When ore is blasted in the first tunnel, it falls and lands in the second. It is then picked up by hand and brought to the surface.

3. Marine Diamond Mining

Among the newest in mining developments, this diamond mining process attaches crawlers to ships to gather seabed gravel that is later processed. Obviously, this only occurs in countries with ocean access.

4. Alluvial (Artisanal) Mining

Alluvial diamonds are often found in widely-spread deposits, making it nearly impossible to mine them industrially. Therefore, small-scale diamond extraction is typically done by hand – often without regulation.

Diamond Mining’s Environmental Impact

impact of diamond mining on the environment

As demand continues to increase, mining moves towards faraway destinations, causing soil erosion, deforestation, forced migration, and animal species endangerment (all of which are delicately intertwined).

Changes the Course of Waterways

Diamond mining companies can literally change the course of rivers and/or build dams to reveal riches beneath riverbeds. This move destabilizes entire ecosystems: The animals and people (especially farmers) have relied on these waterways for millennia, and when waters disappear, they must look elsewhere for survival and sustenance.
What’s more, water-scarce countries face polluted rivers and lakes long after mining operations end. In Zimbabwe, there have been reports of livestock deaths and human ailments along the Odzi River. Environmentalists believe that ferrosilicon (a toxic substance) is released via dense medium separation processes.

Open-Pit Mining Increases Health Risks

Open-pit mining is easily the most threatening of mining strategies. Once-fertile farmland is stripped of its topsoil and diamond supplies are exhausted, leaving behind inhospitable pits. Stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for waterborne viruses, parasites, and mosquitos, which flourish during wet seasons and create massive health risks for communities.

Is Diamond Mining Ethical?

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The negative effects of diamond mining don’t end with environmental issues either.
Sub-Saharan countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone are some of the top diamond producers in the world. But rather than contribute to the local economies, government corruption and poor enforcement of regulations have led to disastrous crises and blood diamond-financed wars.

With the right legislation and foresight, these issues will be reduced dramatically. Until necessary implementations are made on a national and international level, change lies in the hands of private citizens and organizations.

How We Support Ethical Mining Practices & Sustainable Diamonds

Even though the diamond industry and international legislation have cracked down on the sourcing and purchase of blood diamonds (with movements like the Kimberley Process), many loopholes are still open.
We take our ethical diamonds one step further: To ensure fair mining practices and adequate protection and wages for workers, Jaume Labro visits each site.

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Unlike most jewelry makers and gemstone sellers, Jaume Labro tracks the entire supply chain – from mine to our showroom. This ensures that each diamond benefits the community members who are responsible for mining them. When you purchase Mokume Gane jewelry from Jaume Labro, you’re wearing a beautiful bespoke jewelry piece that’s directly changed lives.

Help Us Fight the Destructive Cycle of Diamond Mining

sustainable diamonds

Previously-mined areas in Sierra Leone were thought to be destroyed forever, but lnd restoration has become an increasingly popular route for improving damaged ecosystems. Private citizens have taken it upon themselves to plant trees, fill in pits, and recover topsoil.

Combined with our promise to use only pure, recycled gold and ethical diamonds – Jaume Labro supports the restoration of Sierra Leone rainforests. Each sustainable jewelry finances the planting of a tree (you’ll receive your tree’s exact GPS coordinates).
Labro has also pledged to donate 5% of every purchase to the Wara Wara Schools Project. This non-profit facilitates educational opportunities for children in Sierra Leone communities that are affected by mining operations.

Discover more about our efforts to produce the finest sustainable jewelry anywhere.