How Does Diamond Mining Affect the Environment? The Answer May Surprise You

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As consumers, we consistently overlook where gemstones come from, how they were mined, and who dug them from deep below the earth’s surface. Mining is the only method to retrieve them, but no matter how it’s carried out, the diamond mining process almost always leaves destruction and devastation in its wake.

Because the demand isn’t going anywhere, there’s never been a better time to invest in ethical diamond solutions that provide safe, sustainable mining methods for workers and surrounding communities.

Diamond Mining Process

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

Open Pit Mining

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

Underground (Hard Rock) Mining

Two levels of tunnels are dug deep into the crust of the earth and connected with 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.

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. This process only functions in countries with ocean access.

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.

What is the Impact of Diamond Mining on the Environment?

impact of diamond mining on the environment

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.

Legislation have cracked down on the sourcing and purchase of blood diamonds, but many loopholes are still open Click To Tweet

As demand continues to increase, mining moves towards faraway destinations – and its environmental impact is often underestimated. This especially pertains to soil erosion, deforestation, forced migration, and animal species endangerment (all of which are delicately intertwined).

Changing the Course of Waterways

Diamond mining companies might 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, for example, 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 flourish when the wet season approaches, creating massive health risks for communities.

How Diamond Mining Impacts African Nations

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Sub-Saharan countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone are some of the top diamond producers in the world. Government corruption and poor regulation enforcement, however, have led to disastrous environmental crises (as well as the financing of wars via ‘blood diamonds’).

With the right legislation and foresight, these issues can be reduced dramatically. Until these implementations are made on a national and international level, however, change is left up to private citizens and organizations.

How Jaume Labro Gives Back

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As a country riddled with a corrupt gemstone mining market, previously-mined areas in Sierra Leone were thought to be destroyed forever. Land restoration is an increasingly popular route for improving damaged ecosystems, and something that private citizens have taken upon themselves by planting trees, filling in pits, and recovering topsoil.

Combined with his promise to use only the finest recycled gold – as well as ethical and sustainable diamonds – Jaume Labro supports the restoration of Sierra Leone rainforests. Each jewelry purchase finances the planting of a tree and you’ll receive your tree’s exact GPS coordinates.

Labro has also pledged to donate to the Wara Wara Schools Project. This non-profit organization facilitates educational opportunities for those in impoverished Sierra Leone communities, especially those affected by mining operations.

Ethical Mining Practices and Sustainable Diamonds

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Unlike most jewelry makers, Jaume Labro tracks the entire supply chain to ensure that each diamond benefits community members responsible for mining them. When you purchase Mokume Gane jewelry from Jaume Labro, you’ll be wearing something beautiful that’s directly changed lives.