eARTH mINED dIAMONDS aRE deSTRUCTIVE
Diamond mines excavate large amounts of earth in order to extract diamonds from deep below the earth’s surface. These diamond mined are often so large they can be seen from space. Mining requires incredible amounts of fossil-fuel powered heavy machinery to extract just a few carats of diamonds.
Large diamond deposits are, quite unfortunately, often found in areas of high biodiversity and in sensitive habitats. Many mines in Russia and Canada are within or just below the arctic circle. In Central Africa, nearly 42% of mines will impact “ecologically important locations” when fully exploited. Mines destroy native fauna, disrupt ecosystems, migration routes, food chains, and wreak havoc on endemic wildlife. Mining is a labor-intensive process, creating jobs and drawing large numbers of people to live in the vicinity of the mine. New cities in turn sprout up nearby mines, destroying even more natural habitats.
Diamond mining is not a clean process. It leaves behind hundreds of tons of waste rock annually, which, when untreated, can leach heavy metals into soil and water. These heavy metals may be absorbed by plants, which will be consumed by local animals thereby making their way into the food chain. Or they may be present in such high concentrations that they directly poison native wildlife.
Earth-mined diamonds require a lot of energy to be extracted, transported across the world, and make their way into a piece of jewelry. It is estimated that global diamond mining consumes over 1 million liters of fuel, which is more than 8,500 New York to London return flights. Diamond mines are often found in remote areas, making their transportation and distribution another environmental concern. Lab-created diamond production consumes considerably less power, and can be powered with clean, green energy. And since diamond labs can be virtually anywhere in the world, man-made diamonds need not be shipped around the world and back to make it to its final destination, a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Diamond mining consumes a lot of water. Over 120 gallons of water are needed to mine just 1 carat of diamond. In contrast, lab-created diamonds use 85% less water, at only 18 gallons per carat.
If a diamond is forever, so is a diamond mine. Diamond mines, once exhausted, are typically abandoned. Abandoned mines are a scar on the earth’s surface, which can even be seen from space. Lab grown diamonds leave no such destructive legacy.