The formal diamond mining industry constantly strives to strike a balance between its
economic, social and environmental responsibilities, while making a positive and lasting contribution to the environment and communities in which it operates. However there is also a large amount of informal alluvial diamond digging – which is not currently regulated and therefore neither is its impact on the environment. This document, as the majority of diamond mining is formal, focuses on the environmental impact on this sector.
To recover diamonds, the industry is using modern mining methods and a more clinical approach to sustainability of mining and therefore the impact on the environment is being minimized while the benefits to the communities and countries where they are found are being maximized. These benefits are particularly true in Africa, where the prudent harnessing of natural resources by government is one of the fundamental platforms to help countries develop and pull their citizens out of the poverty cycle that blights much of the African continent.

The Diamond mining industry faces environmental challenges

It must be recognised that mineral extraction by its very nature of mining does have the potential to impact the environment unless carefully managed. The key challenge is Land Disturbance; Diamond mining uses a variety of methods, some of which involve the removal of large quantities of soil from the earth. However it must be remembered that it is economically beneficial to recover the greatest amount of diamonds while moving the least amount of other material. Therefore diamond mines seek to have the minimum sized footprint, and move only that necessary material (known as waste) efficiently.

Modern day best practice calls for a full review of the plans for removal, storage and return of this topsoil/waste and the environmental impact it will have to allow the area to return to its previous state.

In addition to land disturbances there are a number of other associated challenges:

• Energy use and emissions
• Waste and recycling
• Use of water
• Impact on Biodiversity

Diamond mining, unlike many other traditional types of resource extraction which often involve complex chemical industrial processes and/or extreme heat, is quite a green process. The process of diamond extraction from hard rock mines, prehistoric dry alluvial locations, as well as underwater dredging extraction does not use hazardous materials.

Please come back for more on this topic...


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