“Few industries in the world have a larger environmental and social footprint than mining.” -Michael J. Kowalski, former CEO of Tiffany & Co.
"Scientific American: Surrounded by Diamonds, Villagers Go Hungry in Drought-Hit Zimbabwe" Scientific American.
The environmental and social implications of diamond mining transcend a long and arduous history. Although we are glad diamond mining companies are acknowledging this reality, the fact is that even the most "sustainable" mining site requires massive displacement of land, threatening our fragile ozone layer and causing harm to surrounding ecosystems and communities. In fact, there are no sustainable diamonds in nature; mined diamonds are a finite resource and their extraction takes a profound environmental toll.
Surprisingly, is that it takes more energy to extract an underground diamond than it does to cultivate one in our foundry.
In order to explore sites, roads are built and lands are cleared. This has vast impacts on the biodiversity in these areas, obstructing ecosystems both near and outreaching. Clearing the land for settlement, pouring roads on habitats, and up-heaving up to 250 tons of earth for a 1 carat diamond requires an enormous amount of energy. The energy used at these sites involves the burning of fossil fuels which emit massive amounts of harmful greenhouse gases. For more information, visit Clarity Project. This is why it is was so important for Diamond Foundry to be a certified carbon neutral company operating solely on clean, renewable energy.
The evidence of whether mining truly helps local communities is mixed. For the most part, mining enriches local officials and the mining companies, not the local communities.
Oxfam has found that mining negatively affects communities in a multitude of ways. The “resource curse” can force people from their homes, affect their food and water sources, change their societies and expose them to harassment.
As recently as February 2016, drought-stricken Zimbabwean villagers are starving as they watch companies turn the ground over, collecting diamonds nearby.
Dillon Marsh, a photographer from Cape Town whose work often explores the intersection between social and environmental issues, explores this reality with projects like “For What It’s Worth.” Marsh often photographs abandoned gold, copper and diamond mines to showcase their long-term impact on the landscape.
In Diamonds Aren’t Forever I, Marsh turns his camera towards the small towns that grow around diamond mines, suggesting that their impermanence is further proof the negative effects of mining. “Declining yields of diamond ore in the mining areas of the Diamond Coast of South Africa and Namibia have forced the mines to retrench large numbers of workers in recent years. The small towns that service the mines are now showing signs of neglect as residents leave to find work elsewhere. In the Namibian town of Oranjemund, houses lie empty and unused, their gardens gradually laid bare by the harsh, arid climate.”