On November 5, two dams at an iron-ore mine owned by Samarco Mineração SA - a joint venture between two of the world's biggest mining companies, Australian BHP Billiton and Brazilian Vale SA - collapsed in Brazil. Almost 16 million gallons of toxic sludge escaped, sending a deluge of hazardous mud into a tiny town called Bento Rodrigues and starting the journey down the Rio Doce River. Bento Rodrigues was completely devastated, eleven people were killed with 12 more missing and presumed to be dead.
This has been called a "crucial week" for the future of Dominion Diamond's Ekati mine in Canada's NWT as it faces hearings initiated by an environmental watchdog about its proposed expansion of the mine - a project named the Jay pipe. "Dominion believes opening up Jay – by building a dyke, draining part of a lake and digging an open pit – will keep the mine open for an additional 10 years, to 2030," reports mining.com.
Fairtrade International has named Reflective Images Jewelry as the first Certified Fairtrade Gold American jeweler. The jewelry firm worked as the U.S. commercial liaison with Fairtrade International to launch the certification program while also introducing its own traceable and transparent sourcing practices in precious metal and gems. The move is the latest international expansion following its launch last October in Switzerland where approximately 70% of all gold refining takes place.
The CIBJO Congress that took place in Brazil in May is set to become the first-ever carbon neutral event in the jewelry industry, the global diamond, precious stones and jewelry industry body said. Environmental consulting company Carbon-Expert worked with CIBJO on its goal of carbon neutrality and has published a report on the event’s carbon footprint, including carbon gas emissions generated by the event and by participants’ preparation and travel.
On Aug. 5, an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew accidentally spilled three million gallons of toxic gold mine waste into Colorado’s Animas River, turning it orange and sparking a state of emergency in the local area. The EPA crews were investigating contamination at the Gold King Mine in Colorado, which has been closed since 1923. They accidentally breached a barrier, causing decades-old mine waste to flood into the Animas River. News reports say the orange-colored sludge has traveled as far as Utah and New Mexico.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in Zimbabwe has come under fire from Marange villagers who accused the state watchdog of doing nothing while Marange diamond miners were destroying the environment and polluting their water. Angry villagers blasted EMA for continuously fining companies in Marange for committing various environmental offences instead of closing down their operations. Villagers say the EMA was profiting from their suffering because it was not taking action against “environmental sabotage”.
Canada's federal government says the proposed expansion of the Northwest Territories' Ekati diamond mine doesn't need a second environmental review. That's good news for Dominion Diamond Corporation, which hopes to begin construction on the expansion in the second half of 2016, but it's not good news for the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA). The KIA wants the Nunavut review because the Jay project lies within the Lac de Gras watershed. All water from the watershed goes to the Coppermine River, a popular canoeing destination and source of drinking water and fish for the Inuit of Kugluktuk.
Continuing his theme on protecting the environment and human rights, Pope Francis pointed to injustices in the mining industry and called for collaboration in fostering change.
According to The West Australian Kimberley Diamonds' (KDL) decision to shut Ellendale has thrown into limbo the company’s ability to meet rehabilitation costs for the mine. KDL placed the operating subsidiary that runs Ellendale into administration on Wednesday, leaving more than 100 workers stranded without their past month’s pay. Sources suggest KDL owes trade creditors as much as $10 million, plus accrued entitlements for its workers. That figure sat at more than $3 million at June 30 last year, according to its last annual report.
The Zimbabwe Government has currently lost more than $21 million in potential statutory remittances following its recent suspension of alluvial diamond extraction by mining firm DTZ-OZGEO due to environmental concerns, said Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko. The government is reviewing its decision in the interest of generating more revenue. The decision has also affected over 400 workers. The company was accused of destroying the ecosystem and polluting the Mutare River in Penhalonga during previous operations.
Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Egor Borisov and the new president of ALROSA Andrei Zharkov held a joint meeting on socio-economic development of the region. During the opening ceremony, Egor Borisov said that the company is implementing its social and economic development work as planned. The parties reached an understanding on reforming housing and communal services, support for the diamond cutting and polishing industry, and construction of the laboratory building of the M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University branch in Mirny.
Quebec's government has reaffirmed its commitment to the stalled Northern Plan, le "Plan Nord". The re-launch of the heralded project to develop Quebec's vast northern territory has been scaled back by C$30 bn. to C$50 bn. in public-private funding, but is still a key component in the government's strategy to stimulate the economy. The Plan's objectives are to responsibly develop the economic potential of N. Quebec while supporting community development and protecting the environment.
De Beers Canada says some recommendations for how to tackle a total dissolved solids groundwater problem at its Snap Lake diamond mine could, if implemented, result in the mine closing down early — a move that would put 300 N.W.T. residents out of work. De Beers is asking the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board to nearly triple the highest allowed level of TDS in Snap Lake to 1,000 milligrams per litre.
CIBJO's Marketing & Education Commission has published its Special Report which will provide an outline for talks for the industry as part of the CIBJO Congress to be held in Brazil from May 4 to 7.
Michael J. Kowalski, who steps down on March 31 but is staying with the firm, is interested in broadening Tiffany’s environmental work.
National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has been asked by the environment impact monitoring panel to close its diamond mines in Panna by 2016. The panel believes the mines are endangering tigers, but authorities say poachers and not miners are the problem.
Researchers at Mexico’s Universidad Oberaoamericana have managed to purify water tained by a toxic insecticide.
Although the Kimberley Process has tremendously transformed the global diamond trade, there is still the challenge to scale up systems for ethical supply chains so that millions can participate and benefit from them.
Recently passed laws in Queensland ensure only directly affected landholders, their neighbors and local councils can legally object to mining application.
Survival International condemned Botswana for opening a diamond mine on Bushmen's ancestral land, nearly a decade after the government stated there were no plans to mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.