Environmental Impacts of Mined Diamond: What’s The Alternative?

Environmental Impacts of Mined Diamond: What’s The Alternative?

Diamond is a beautiful luxury stone which is loved by all. They are used for several things, but they are widely known for jewelry production.

Diamond jewelry represents sophistication and style. Also, they are used to show love and everlasting commitment. And it makes for an excellent gift that everyone will appreciate. No wonder they call it a lady’s best friend.

Naturally, diamonds are mined and collected from the deep layers of the Earth. This does come at the cost of social, political, and environmental hazards. Some social impacts of diamond mining are child labor and abuse and terrible working conditions. While politically, the proceeds from diamond mining are known to have funded civil wars.

Environmental Hazards of Mining Diamond

diamond mine

Diamond mining is not as harmful as gold mining because it doesn’t involve the same toxic chemicals. But it still poses significant risks.

Over time, diamond mining has caused damage to the environment and the life around it. The environmental impact has many effects on the ecosystem. It affects the earth’s crust, wild life, sea life, and human life. Many animals have perished due to diamond mining, and people have been forced to flee.

There are non-toxic ways of harvesting diamonds such as lab-grown diamonds, which we will analyze later on. Lab-grown diamonds are a safer and healthier option.

They have the same appearance as mined diamonds and are also used in jewelry production. Lab grown diamond earrings, for instance, have the same shine as mined diamond earrings.

They share similar physical and chemical properties. Also, lab-grown diamonds offer the same value and are much more cost-effective than mined diamonds. Below are some of the impacts of diamond mining on the environment.

Water Pollution

water pollution

Diamond mining causes water pollution in mining areas. Diamond mining requires large amounts of water or mine cooling, drainage, and other mining processes.

Chemicals from these processes will, in turn, contaminate water bodies. Also, open pits accumulate water from rain. This acidic water drains into rivers and causes pollution. This results in the death of sea animals and plants.

Water pollution from diamond mining is widespread in parts of South Africa. This is due to acid drainage from open-pit mining. The open-pits get filled with water when it rains, and they can get an extra width of 20 meters when it rains heavily. Residents of these areas have little or no access to clean water, and develop various health hazards.

Deforestation

Another environmental hazard of diamond mining is deforestation. For mining to be performed, forest areas have to be cleared. Trees and bushes are uprooted to make space for the pits.

The clearing of trees leads to climatic imbalance. And this leads to an increase in global warming. Plants constantly release oxygen, and deforestation interferes with that process by hampering the amount of oxygen released into the atmosphere.

Soil Erosion

Erosion (Wikimedia Commons)

Diamond mining destroys the soil and changes its properties. When layers of earth are removed, land erosion occurs easily. Layers of sand are washed away, stripping the soil of its nutrients.

This will affect farming and food production. Also, deforestation causes waterlogging, which can cause floods in the long run.

Animal Extinction

As a result of the pollution and deforestation from diamond mining, some animal species are at risk of extinction. The chemicals that are released make the environment poisonous and inhabitable.

Also, with the felling of trees and clearing of grasses, animal shelters are destroyed. Many animals are forced to flee, and some die in the process.

The Four Ways Diamonds are Mined

diamond mining (Wikimedia Commons)

Most people consume and admire diamonds without knowing where or how they are produced. Diamonds go through different extraction processes before they are refined and commercialized. Here are the four ways diamonds are mined.

Alluvial Mining

This is the oldest and most traditional mining process. This surface mining process involves gathering diamonds on the earth’s surface. This extraction is done mainly by hand.

Underground Mining

This mining method involves the digging of two tunnels of different levels. These tunnels are then connected with funnels. When the first tunnel is blasted, the ore falls into the second tunnel. When this is complete, the ore is hand-picked and taken to the surface for extraction.

Open-Pit Mining

mining environmental impacts

Open-pit mining involves the removal of multiple layers of sand and rock. After the removal, the ore in the pit is blasted for easy extraction. Once this is done, the ore is transported to a crusher for the diamond extraction process.

Marine Diamond Mining

Marine diamond mining is the newest diamond mining process. It can only be done in countries that have ocean access. Here crawlers are attached to the ships to gather sea bed gravels. These   gravels are later processed and sorted.

Alternatives to Mining Diamonds

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Diamond mining has proven to be harmful to the ecosystem in many ways. It pollutes the soil, water, and air. And it makes the environment unsuitable for habitation.

But even at that, diamonds are indeed essential stones. So how do you find the balance? Are there any alternatives? There are many other options for mined diamonds that are eco-friendly and cost-effective.

Lab-Grown Diamond

Lab-grown diamonds are also known as man-made diamonds. They are artificially grown in labs and are identical to mined diamonds. They have the same sparkle and gorgeousness.

A lab-grown diamond stud earring cannot be differentiated from a real diamond earring. That is because they share the same properties. But lab-grown diamonds are more eco-friendly. And experts say they are the best alternative to mined diamonds.

Moissanite

Moissanite follows diamonds as the second hardest substance on earth. They can emit rainbow flashes and shine as bright as diamonds. Also, most people will not be able to differentiate between a moissanite and a diamond.

Glass

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Currently, glass can be polished and cut to look like gemstones. Although glass breaks easily, they are one of the many alternatives for diamonds. They have a soft and fragile structure, and they should be treated as such.

White Sapphires

White sapphires are another alternative to diamonds. They are sophisticated, affordable, and long-lasting. And they are fast becoming a natural alternative to diamonds.

Diamond Conclusion

jewelry

Diamonds are beautiful and required for a variety of reasons. They make excellent gemstones in jewelry production. However, the extraction process of mined diamonds is harmful to the environment. It affects the soil, water, air, flora and fauna.

Lab-grown diamonds are a better alternative. They are easier to grow, more affordable, able, and more sophisticated. Also, there are other alternatives to mined diamonds that can serve similar purposes

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