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Responsible diamond mining
By: Diamond World News Service
Aug 13 2014 6:56PM
Reference: 9428  

There is no doubt that the shimmering stone - diamond provides employment and supports millions of people around the globe right from mining to market. But we cannot ignore the flip side involved, too. It is known that mineral mining by its very temperament does hold the capacity to crash the environment except when vigilantly handled. Due to the diamond mining methods, there is a large quantity of soil displaced from the earth. This has many corresponding affects on the entire eco-system. Apart from the environment, mining also does affect the social, cultural and economic facets of the region. Here come the biggest questions - how can sustainability be achieved for both the eco-system as well as human communities involved in mining? How can the environmental, social and economical problems be mitigated at the onset itself? The answer to this somewhere lies in the word ‘Responsible Mining’, which involves foreseeing the problems and initiating a planned mining to mitigate the issues right from the beginning along with bringing in benefits for the people involved. Most of the mining companies have realised the seriousness of this and have well initiated these plans, to explore this issue and to know in-depth about the CSR activities undertaken, Kunjal Karaniya spoke to few of the top diamond mining companies.

There are a restricted number of commercially viable diamond mines at present operating in the world, with the 50 largest mines accounting for approximately 90 per cent of the global supply. Roughly 49 per cent of diamonds are sourced from Central and Southern Africa, even though important sources of the mineral have been discovered in Canada, India, Russia, Brazil, and Australia. The mining and distribution of natural diamonds are subjects of recurrent controversy like distress over the sale of blood diamonds or conflict diamonds by African paramilitary groups.

A negligent diamond mining takes a profound toll on the environment. It can lead to soil erosion, deforestation, damaging the landscape, extinction of wildlife species which forces local population to relocate. When not careful in protecting rivers and streams from exploitation like re-routing rivers and constructed dams to expose riverbeds for mining, the devastating effects are felt on the flora and fauna, fish and wildlife. In acute cases, diamond mining can result in the entire ecosystem to crumple.

When miners leave behind thousands of vacant mining pits, the wildlife vanishes, topsoil erodes, and land previously apt for farming becomes a deserted land. These pits also create a public health disaster as when they get filled with dormant rainwater, human garbage; it gets infested with mosquitoes, dissemination malaria and other water-borne diseases. These conditions along with the atmosphere also affect the social, cultural and economic health of the vicinity.

Diamond mining or any type of mining is evidently not sustainable. You dig a hole; take material out of the hole, and then leave it. Ultimately, the hole runs out of the material you were digging up. That is not sustainable!

Yet as an activity, diamond mining can be made to add to sustainability. At the outset, we identify that development is essential to eradicate poverty and to offer economic choices for people working at the mines. From the countries where they are sourced to the countries where they are polished and sold, diamonds are supporting millions of people globally.

But, the issue then remains, how do we make this development as sustainable as possible? There are few social impacts of mining as well; an unexpected inflow of money into the communities tends to generate some social tensions. Sudden shift in work patterns affects the normal social rhythms. The biggest question here is what after the mine is dried? Is mining the only job they learn and do for the entire life-time? The land if not wisely used for mining, remains no longer fertile for farming and there are possibilities of re-locating due to the environmental changes. In such case, preservation and restoration of the natural environment, to ensure that choices for future generations are preserved is a must. We tried to find this out by going in-depth of the problem and speaking to the top mining companies of the world to know how they are working towards achieving this sustainability.

Due to insufficient planning and regulation, diamond mining inflicts environmental and social mayhem. But the damage is not the inevitable result of diamond mining as there are ways to mitigate the effects and so we now talk about the responsible diamond mining aiming towards sustainability.

Diamond mining is usually not as much of damaging to the environment as other types of mining, such as gold mining, as it does not make use of toxic chemicals. In spite of severe environmental risks, efficient regulation and suitable planning can diminish diamond mining’s environmental brunt. In addition, landscapes transformed by diamond mining can be reformed. Many organisations have come ahead to help restore the ecosystem at many affected places. The diamond companies too have realised that they can no longer harm and take from the earth without giving it back. Here comes into picture the Corporate Social Responsibility. We bring you the activities undertaken by few of the top-most gems and diamond mining companies in the world towards this issue.

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