There are a variety of mining processes that is all dependent on how the diamond is situated in the Earth that include simple digging and sifting to advanced marine mining (Rudnicka 2). The “digging and sifting” method is formally known as Artisanal diamond mining and requires very little technology to do yet it takes long hours and hard labor to be truly effective. The workers typically use only their hands, shovels, and sieves to mine for the diamonds. These process is found in a lot of poor countries because of how inexpensive it is (i.e. Congo, West Africa, Liberia).
Another form of mining, the most common, is known as open-pit mining. This involves taking advantage of an open pit or hole in the ground and extracting rock from them (Rudnicka 3). Typically this process comes in handy when the soil is relatively thin and tunneling would simply not be possible. The technology needed is more than Artisanal mining yet it is much more efficient way to mine for the diamonds. It is also one of the safest methods for obtaining the gem.
There is also a relatively new process (~1990s) known as marine mining where diamonds are extracting from offshore locations. This system requires a lot of technology such as underwater drills or remote controlled excavating machines making it only popular in more wealthy nations. Yet, because of it being new and deep underwater, there is more of a risk to the workers than the other methods (Rudnicka 3).
There are risks that impact more than just the workers in these processes such as ones to the environment. These include energy use, water and land use, and impacts on biodiversity (Diamond Mining). Particularly in the technologically advanced mining methods, energy use is a concern because of pollution as much of the equipment may be fossil fuel based therefore adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. As companies continue to push for more efficient ways to mine diamonds, they are being urged by environmentalists to make it “eco-friendly” as well. These requests are typically only granted if it also benefits the company’s profits. As the mines are started, many times piles of soil, sand, or rock are often displaced in large quantities leaving many land sites in devastation-which in turn leaves areas where people may have lived in ruins (Diamond Mining 2). In marine mining, a major concern is the water pollution as many machines and drills are being used underwater that may pollute the area. Lastly, the biggest concern with mining, is the effects to biodiversity and ecosystems. These mining facilities are typically built in “environmentally fragile ecosystems, have significant ecological footprints, and will continue to impact the [wildlife]…” (There are No Clean Diamonds). Yet again, the capitalistic pursuit of greed is impacting much more than just the consumers, but the planet in which all living things live.
Example of Open Pit Mining: