Diamond occurs in the lower layer of the earth’s crust, at the upper mantle boundary, approximately 150 km below the earth’s surface. It reaches the earth by the movements of the earth’s crust or by volcanic eruptions. With the separation of the continents, diamonds found in the depths approached the earth. It is thought to be the reason why it is common in Africa. Thanks to the developing technology over time, the diamonds in the upper mantle can be mined enough to reach, and diamonds can be extracted from under the ocean and even glaciers. However, diamond mining has a lot of harm to humans and the environment.
The operations performed during diamond mining cause irreversible damage to the environment. Changes in underground and surface water beds, destruction of vegetation, reduction of animal diversity, greenhouse gas emission to the atmosphere are just some of these environmental damages. Apart from this, it affects people’s lives badly due to the conditions of diamond mining. This is evidenced by the bad working conditions of the mines and the civil wars caused by the income of diamonds.
Diamond Mining: Plunder of a Continent
Today is Valentine’s Day, today is New Year’s Day, today is mother’s day, today is an ordinary day, where consumption is the “ultimate” purpose of life, an ordinary day where the calculation is not made on what and how you consume, but how much you consume. The man, who was searching the ground under the supervision of the men, was shot because he hid a piece of the diamond with the size of a sand grain in his palms. The armed men, who could not get the diamond, cut off his arm because his arm, which he held the diamond, was stiff. If the cut arm had not disappeared in the waters, it would be on your finger on the next Valentine’s Day.
While the story of the formation of the diamond, which is tried to be sold to us as a symbol of love and devotion, takes millions of years, its extraction, processing, and trade causes millions of lives and the plunder of a whole continent. The rulers who fought for this in the south of India in 800 BC, when the glamorous shine first surfaced, are nowadays continuing to fight with their “global capitalist” faces and slaughter them in order to increase their profits. The current winner of the diamond wars is De Beers, which owns 80% of the world’s diamond reserves and almost all of this market. Since 1870, when De Beers opened the first mine in South Africa, from all African countries where the scent of the glow spread, to the smear diamond processing workshops that are opened in the poor streets of India, it has been signing “poverty” and “death”.
Sierra Leone: The Bloodiest Turn of Diamond Mining
In Sierra Leone, where British colonialists set foot in the late 18th century, coffee, bauxite, and diamond, which received the attention of European merchants, were served to Europe under the baffled glances of the locals; In Sierra Leone, where an ordinary person worked all day for 30 cents a day, only from 1937 until 1996, diamonds worth more than $ 15 billion were shipped to Europe. The De Beers company entered this country in 1937 and has played a leading role in the carnage of nature and people in Sierra Leone since then. But none of this has been as bloody as the Revolutionary United Front-state war in the early 90s, in which millions were killed and mutilated. Although the war appears to be a “civil war” between DBC and the state, the war was a game of De Beers-De Beers.
On the one hand, De Beers provided weapons to the so-called revolutionary united front, which was founded by Foday Sankoh, an ex-army member, and competing in the state against allegiance, in exchange for “some diamonds”, while also providing weapons to state forces in return for “some diamonds”. Thus, from 1991 to 2002, when this game began in Sierra Leone, more than 50,000 people died, while more than 500,000 people who refused to participate in the war were amputated, raped, and forced to migrate. Meanwhile, by purchasing diamonds in De Beers cheaper than Sierra Leone, it further increased its power to set prices in the world diamond market.
In 1999, some NGOs in America started a campaign by pointing out the war in Sierra Leone and protesting the purchase of diamonds from the countries where the mining wars were taking place. Surprisingly, these demands, supported by De Beers, one of the main actors of the war in Sierra Leone, were accepted in the United Nations General Assembly under the name of the Kimberley Certification Process Agreement in 2003. With this agreement, it was decided to call diamonds that will come from countries that do not fulfill the above demands as “blood diamonds” and limit their trade. De Beers, who introduced the “blood diamond” to Africa as Africans say, banned the “blood diamond”.
The diamond giant, who was a war-roger when it came to his job, was trying to “anti-war” in order to have the 20% diamond share he missed under war conditions, or to devalue him. This meant the following; All diamonds not purchased from De Beers are blood diamonds. The company, which currently holds almost all of the “clean diamond” trade, continues to consume whatever is available in the name of life in Africa under the supervision of the United Nations.
From South Africa to India: The Wounds Caused by Diamond Mining on Earth
Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and others. The vast majority of the African continent is either rich in diamond deposits or on the transit route of the diamond trade. So almost all of Africa is in trouble with De Beers. In fact, the Kimberley process has not changed much, in countries like Angola and South Africa where there is no hot war, those working in the mines become victims of a separate war every day. Those who are supposed to mine clean diamonds are forced to work all day for a very low wage and live in labor camps set up by De Beers’ subcontractors. Moreover, this persecution continues after the diamond extraction phase.
Although diamond processing is carried out in New York, Tel Aviv, and various cities of Belgium, it is actually done in India, a paradise of cheap labor. India, whose former rich diamond mines were plundered by the sovereigns, still seems to have not recovered from the curse of this shiny stone. The diamonds that will be presented to the European and American markets in diamond processing workshops established in many cities of India are turned into crystals by workers employed under slavery conditions. When you look at the African continent from above, you feel as if you are looking into the face of a plague; because an entire continent is filled with huge holes. These holes are diamond mines. The largest of these is the mine called the Kimberley Pit. This mine is so deep that even a plane cannot pass over it because of the air current it creates. 22.5 million tons of soil was extracted from this mine with a depth of 1097 meters.
Just looking at the photos of these holes is enough to understand the ecological destruction created. Moreover, the diamond mine continues to kill not only on land but also in the sea and the ocean. The bottom of the region, which is thought to be a diamond under the sea, is drilled with all the living life in it and pulled into the ship to extract the diamond pieces inside. The consequence of this is that life in that area is almost completely destroyed. While diamond, gold, and platinum blind the eyes of modern European and American civilizations with their sparkles, it turns into black magic for a whole continent. While the sovereigns chase the radiance many meters deep, they are not bothered by burying millions of lives in the ground. But there is another light that has shined since the colonial first set foot in Africa, that is the glow of anger in people’s eyes. A wave of anger that grows as the ambition of the “White Man” grows, the black anger of Africa…
The Other Side of Diamond Mining: Behind the Scenes of the Engagement Ring
It is constantly told that “International Organizations” play with our perception and turn “tricks”. These games may be of a political, religious, social nature, but also of economic nature, according to what has been told. Is this the truth? Are such insidious organizations playing with our perceptions? In answering this question, it should not be forgotten that the personal psychology of those who claim to reveal organizations claimed to be “secret” played a role in the formation of this “fashion”.
For example, the most famous “plot decipher” was a narrative starring the “Mysteries of the Freemasons” from a book about Freemasons by an author named Leo Taxil. But ultimately it turned out that Leo Taxil was the pseudonym of a writer named Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès and wrote the book as a “troll” in the current phrase. But those who are unaware of this information still refer to Leo Taxil’s book to describe how insidious, deceitful, and treacherous Masons are.
But there is also another side of the coin: Through advertisements, PR campaigns, movies, and other communicative activities, companies have an impact on our perception. Apart from the mystical world of conspiracy theories, companies that are not at all “sneaky”, whose shares are open to the public, are audited by impartial organizations several times a year, perform perceptual games that will amaze you to achieve their goals. We wanted to present another window to our readers by mentioning one of the greatest “games” of history, which is frequently mentioned about the games of hidden focuses both in politics and economy. Diamonds were rare in Europe.
Traditional diamond deposits were in India, an exotic value as a distant rare stone. However, in this period, diamonds did not have a very different positioning from minerals such as ruby and emerald which are accepted as “semi-precious stone” today. While these stones were used in jewelry, color and appearance were more important, and diamonds used to adorn some of the jewels of those rich and strong enough to bring them from India.
Although the presence of diamond deposits in the New World had some impact on the diamond market, it did not create a large supply-demand confusion, both in terms of volume, and the difficulty of extracting & fetching remained roughly the same. The discovery of diamond mines in South Africa towards the end of the 19th century had a huge impact. Now the volume and quality of diamond production have increased in many parts of the world. It was not even a matter of fact that this situation greatly increased the supply of diamonds and turned the diamond into a semi-precious stone. At that time, a company in South Africa would start looking for ways to control supply and then demand.
De Beers: Diamond Mining Monopoly
The discovery of a large diamond deposit in the field of the De Beer brothers of Dutch origin changed the fate of the Republic of South Africa. Cecil Rhodes, the famous British politician, businessman, and entrepreneur, soon started mining activities in the area. With the merger of small mining businesses thanks to Rhodes’ business acumen, De Beers Diamond Mining company suddenly turned into a huge trust. From the very first years, Rhodes had signed a deal with the London Diamond Cartel and fixed prices.
Another diamond entrepreneur, Ernest Oppenheimer, wanted to own shares of De Beers alongside the Anglo-American Diamond Company he founded. Diamond businesses in South Africa, where new mines were found every day, were entering a trend of a merger. Oppenheimer succeeded in becoming the chairman of De Beers’ board after long struggles, and the giant monopoly, with its links in America, Israel, the Netherlands, and England, took a price-setting role in the international diamond trade.
What De Beers did was simple: he buys diamonds from all possible producers, makes exclusive agreements with countries to buy diamonds (15% of De Beers shares today belong to the state legal entity of Botswana, an African country) and In this way, he had almost complete control over the number of diamonds to be released into the market after production. So much so that with the discovery of diamond deposits in Siberia years later, De Beers broke through all the barriers of the Cold War and made a deal with the Soviets. From India, Africa, Siberia, diamonds flowed into the monopoly of De Beers and its sub-firms, which would release diamonds into the market without allowing excess supply to lower prices, allowing producers and partners to profit excessively.
When there was an attempt to oppose the De Beers monopoly, De Beers suddenly released plenty of diamonds into the market, causing prices to drop excessively, thereby eliminating rivals whose financial statements could not cope with it. In addition, thanks to the “authority institutions” he established, he had a single lead in the diamond standard and pricing. What De Beers did was not only that but also placed a tradition that we consider “natural” in our lives. The “great depression” that followed the First World War, affecting the late 1920s and 1930s, also hit the jewelry and gemstone trade. This product item, which is considered as luxury consumption, was losing its consumers due to decreasing purchasing power and economic uncertainty.
De Beers made a move to overcome this influence that affects our lives even today: By signing a deal with N.W Ayer in 1938, he changed the marriage rituals forever. Before 1938, diamond rings had a share in the field of engagement rings. But the “must-have” position for the diamond was not settled, and the Great Depression had reduced the demand for diamonds even more. They launched a campaign to position the diamond as an indispensable part of the marriage ritual and turn the diamond ring into a symbol of the emphasis on timeless belonging.
The campaign, which first educated the public about the properties of diamonds (cut, carat, color, and clarity) and started to knit a “culture” around the diamond, created the slogan used by De Beers even today in 1947: “A Diamond is forever”. Especially with the use of celebrities in the campaign, diamond gained its almost “indisputable” position today: If you are going to announce your intention to marry a woman, you must give a diamond. Diamond is the symbol of royalty, nobility, enduring love, clarity, and sublimity. Listen to the song “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” written in 1949 and sang by Marilyn Monroe in 1953. On the other hand, De Beers and Anglo American’s relationship with diamond mines called “blood diamonds”, where tribes were driven out, child laborers were employed, and civil wars were financed, which can be well hidden behind the glittering illusion that diamond creates in women.
Lives Blackened by Diamond Mining in South Africa
Around 200,000 workers work in the diamond mines in the northern parts of South Africa. Sweden’s two big monopolies, Atlas Copco and Sandvik, sell vehicles and equipment to companies operating their mines. Swedwatch, which scrutinizes the activities of Swedish monopolies abroad, announced that the mining monopolies mining diamonds in South Africa violated the rights of the local people and that the Swedish monopolies that provide vehicles to the mining monopolies remained silent. Swedwatch conducted a survey of 600 people living in the region where the poverty-ruled mines were located, and made a report and announced the results to the public.
67 percent of the respondents said that the mining monopolies seized their land and did not make any payments to them. 64 percent of the people stated that opening the mines by mining monopolies negatively affected society, 62 percent of them stated that the quality of the water was reduced. 72 percent of the people stated that their lives were negatively affected after the monopolies started mining activities. The report also stated that mining monopolies made short-term contracts with workers and violated women’s rights, “Many women live in fear of sexual exploitation and assault. They are forced to give sexual intercourse or bribe in return for their job ”. “Atlas Copco and Sandvik have sold equipment to South Africa’s diamond industrialists for many years,” said Olof Björnsson, one of the executives of Swedwacth, who signed the report. Despite this, none of them can show what their customers are doing to take their responsibility, ”he criticized Swedish companies.
Atlas Copco and Sandvik managers, on the other hand, claimed in their separate statement that they give importance to the rights of the employees and the people living in the region. Sandvik said in a written statement, “We are careful to inform our customers about our code of conduct. “We think it is important for our customers to comply with applicable international laws and regulations”. Sara Liljedahl, the press chief of the Atlas Copco company, also claimed that they are aware of the problems in the mining industry and that local people live in poverty, and that they are discussing the issue with their customers to improve the situation.
However, neither company has disclosed what concrete initiatives they have taken. In the report of Swedwatch referring to the investigations made in previous years, it was stated that there was no improvement in the Swedish monopolies’ attitudes in order to eliminate the violations of rights and correct the conditions and it was pointed out that Sandvik did not enter into dialogue with its customers.
Environmental and Health Hazards of Diamond Mining
If the mineral resource found by the discovery of a mineral deposit has the qualities and quantities that can be operated in feasible economic conditions and with known technologies, the activities that include all the necessary examinations and evaluations in order to decide on the most appropriate operation are defined as mineral exploration. Mineral exploration and mining are activities that have significant effects on human health. Mineral exploration has a dynamic structure. During the operation activities, billions of cubic meters of material are displaced in a certain period of time, depending on the size of the business, both underground and above ground.
During these activities, while mines and minerals, which are natural resources, are brought to the economy for human welfare, on the other hand, the great damage and damages to the ecological environment are often ignored. The topography, geological structure, relief, water regime, climate, and landscape change completely and the vegetation cover is also destroyed after the works are completed in the areas where the activities are carried out and especially in the open-pit areas. Degradation occurs directly as a result of the destruction of the cover and waste piles in the mining worksites and the soil and vegetation in other areas where the mining buildings are built. Events such as soil structure, water relations, chemical properties, soil and vegetation cover, local climate, human and animal health change in places where old mine excavation sites, cover, and waste piles, mine buildings and mineral enrichment facilities are located are indirectly degraded.
In diamond mines, a large amount of soil is mined and piled outside. The excavation areas are often flooded and the soils piled outside cover very large areas. At the same time, agricultural and forest areas are prevented. The extent of the harmful effects of open-pit mines depends on the geological structure, hydrological characteristics, pit area and depth, existing soil, vegetation, and climatic conditions. High piles on the outside significantly spoil the soil and vegetation. Rocks collected in heaps are extremely resistant to deterioration and can give toxic compounds to vegetation. Reuse of these areas is very difficult due to reasons such as excavation locations, depths, steepness of slopes and rocky, water erosion, and flooding after the operation. Although underground mining is much more expensive and difficult compared to open mines, it is a method applied depending on the type of mine and the depth of the mine, and mining operation with this method can cause large amounts of land degradation.
Direct changes in underground mining occur by production and operating facilities, as well as waste streams and mining and non-mining materials extracted from underground. This situation causes many negative effects on human health. The greatest deterioration in relief, water regime, ecological and economic conditions are seen in collapsed mines. In such mining operations, horizontal or vertical movements of rocks up to several meters may occur. This situation causes flooding or dispersal of the soil. Since the mines extracted from underground by various methods are extracted together with mineral wastes, they are subjected to crushing, grinding, and screening processes until they reach the mineral texture.
After that, the enrichment process is started. According to the structure of the gem, it is first passed through aqueous processes so that the mineral wastes are cleaned. Liquid wastes resulting from enrichment with the aqueous system are kept in sedimentation pools and collected. Its excess build-up will leak, which means that high levels of salt and other harmful metals are mixed into the soil.
People use metals such as gold, silver, and copper; They dig precious stones such as diamonds and rubies and minerals such as uranium, asbestos, coal, sand, and salt from the soil. All mining operations are dangerous, it is very difficult for miners to earn a living by protecting their health and the environment. However, there are ways to make mining safer and put pressure on the mining industry to cause less damage. Mining is done by large companies in the form of very large open or deep underground mines as well as small-scale businesses run by the local population. Large-scale mining causes greater destruction because it requires clearing large areas of land, digging huge pits and tunnels, and displacing excessive amounts of soil. However, small mining operations can also harm people and the environment.
Mineral extraction conditions can vary widely depending on the location, type, and size of the extraction operation. By understanding the risks that mining poses to health and long-term well-being and by taking measures to reduce damage in all mines, miners and other people can better protect their health and improve their lives. Mining can cause serious accidents such as fires, explosions, or mine collapse, which affect miners and residents of the mine. Even in places where mining took place long ago, people can be exposed to health risks due to waste and chemicals left in the soil and water. Mining affects health in many ways:
• Dust, chemical spills, harmful fumes, heavy metals, and radiation can poison workers and cause lifelong health problems.
• Heavy lifting and working with the body in improper positions can cause damage to the arms, legs, and back
• Using a drill or other vibrating machine can damage nerves and veins; It can cause loss of sensation, dangerous infections such as gangrene, or even death.
• The constant and loud noises coming from the machines can cause hearing problems up to deaf.
• Working underground for long periods of time with a weak torchlight can damage vision.
• Water pollution and overuse of water resources can lead to many health problems.
• Destruction of land and soil can cause food shortages and hunger.
• Air pollution due to power plants and smelters installed near mines can cause serious diseases.
• Working in very hot conditions without drinking water can cause heat stress. Symptoms of heat stress include dizziness, weakness, rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, and fainting.
Lung damage due to rock and mineral dust is a major health problem. Whether you are mining underground or above ground, if dust clings to your clothes, body, and tools while working, if you cough a lot and have difficulty breathing, you may develop lung damage. Once the dust has damaged the lungs, there is no way to reverse it. Dust is a serious danger to both mine workers and those living near the mine.
The most dangerous dust types are coal, which causes lung disease, and silica, which causes silicosis. Dust containing asbestos (causes asbestosis) or heavy metals is also dangerous. Lung disease, silicosis, and asbestosis are serious diseases with no cure. It is best not to be exposed to harmful dust types. Since these diseases progress rapidly, when symptoms occur, all you can do is to prevent them from getting worse. It is essential that miners do not smoke, as smoking greatly increases dust-related lung damage. Dust from mining can make breathing difficult. Large amounts of dust cause the lungs to blister and swell. Symptoms of dust-related lung damage:
• Short breath, cough,
• Coughing green or yellow sputum
• Throat ache
• Bruising on lips and ears
• Chest pain
• Loss of appetite
Large amounts of water are used in mining. What remains is a large amount of waste polluting water resources and people dependent on these resources. In fact, all mining operations pollute the water, but big companies cause bigger problems. Surface and groundwater in mining areas can remain contaminated for years. Loss of water can make the land barren and unusable for agriculture or raising livestock. The damage caused by water pollution takes much longer than the short-term economic return of mining. Leaking waste ponds are one of the main causes of water pollution due to mining. To prevent pollution, the following should be done about waste ponds:
• It should be built away from water sources and water basin drainage areas.
• It must be properly installed to prevent leakage into groundwater.
• It should be built according to the best international standards.
• Must be monitored to prevent leaks and leaks.
• When the mining operations are completed, the wastes should be cleaned and closed securely. Water contaminated by mining is difficult and costly to clean; It may not always be successful.
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