Diamond mines leave the earth pocketed with craters. These deep cone shaped holes can make sink holes look like a community gopher hole when compared to the gaping earth scars left by diamond mines. Some of these diamond mines are so vast they could swallow a small city within its limits. These inverted craters are like mini mountains dug deep into the caverns of the earth.
In mankind’s thirst and hunger to strip the earth of everything shiny and glittery, these diamond mines have been often created with little regard for the damage they cause. These deep wells of broken earth leave the earth’s surface and subsurface dug up, scraped, penetrated, contaminated, perforated, sunken and barren. The top ten offending diamond mines showcase this issue. While many people are unaware what lies beyond the gates and fencing, from the sky the damage to the region is evident. The issue at hand is while some mining practices reduce the diamond price index, the increased output methods often cause extensive damage to the environment. It is evident these mine companies’ main goal is production and quantity, not environmental safety.
The top ten worst diamond mines for negative impact on the environment sometimes include regions of smaller mines. In an overview, this information shows that a literal mountain of soil would be needed to make the earth whole again in their place.
- Russia’s Mir, one of the worst mines, was fortunately closed to mining in 2004. At its peak it was producing 10 million carats of diamonds each year. The crater it left is over 1,700 feet deep, which equals approximately ⅓ of a mile. The mouth of this diamond mine crater is approximately 7/10 of a mile across, totaling 3,900 feet, or the size of some central business metropolises.
- Another one of Russia’s well known scars was created at the Jwaneng Diamond Mine in Botswana. This is the largest diamond mine in the world today and it is creating one of the largest man made craters on the earth. The area is deeply scarring the region. Due to the waste water it produces, the impact is far greater than just a topographical scar because the waste water contaminates the soil and strip mines the land.
- Another of the intensive craters created is the Finsch Diamond mine. This is located near the region of Kimberley, South Africa. The crater for this diamond mine is a staggering 1,750 feet wide and reaches a depth of over 1,000 feet deep, approximately 1/5 of a mile.
- Another significant environmentally damaging diamond mine is the Catoca diamond mine in Angola. This is in the diamond rich areas on the continent of Africa. This mine removes an enormous amount of rock per carat retrieved. The ratio is 1 metric ton of rock to 1 carat of diamonds. In a mine site that houses an approximate sixty million carats, the environmental impact is devastating.
- In the Kono district of Sierra Leone, there are thousands of mining pits that blot the region. Though the craters are smaller, they have caused wildlife to flee the area and caused wide scale soil erosion.
- In Namibia, Africa by the coast, hundreds of diamond mine pits that were closed in the 1990’s have left the land sterile and uninhabitable. There has also been contamination of the surrounding areas noted by wastewater.
- Additionally, the NAMDEB mines in Namibia, which are in part owned by the government had caused extensive environmental damage prior to the creation of mandated environmental management plans. The nearby ocean water was contaminated, waste mounds were created, and much of the surrounding land has become barren.
- The Koidu diamond mine, in Sierra Leone, has caused extensive damage, not just to the direct area of the mine, but also to the surrounding community. Extensive blasting has caused residents to have to leave the area. The blasting has created huge dust clouds, causing medical ailments. The mining has created a vast barren area, and polluted the nearby water.
- The Udachny Mine, also known as the Udachnaya mine, is located in Siberia, Russia. It is located in the Arctic Circle. Mining has caused damage to the permafrost and has polluted the area. This open pit scar is one of the largest diamond deposits in Russia, and is also one of the largest suppliers of diamonds in the world. As the mining is ongoing and extensive, this mine is expected to significantly further damage the environment in the region.
- The Grasburg mine in Indonesia recently lost some of its funding due to the environmental damage it was causing. The Norwegian Government who financed the mining company dropped their participation for funding. They cited statistics that the mine was dispensing over 230,000 tons of waste into the nearby river during mining.
Diamond mining can be regionally devastating for the environment, and the environmental consequences show that the value of a diamond encompasses far more its market price. The land post-mining is often unsuitable for any use, and it can cause vast erosion in the area and the pooling of water when it rains causing mass reproduction sites for mosquitos that breed malaria.