For a material to be classed as ethically mined there are a number of important things that need to be addressed. Mining is seen by many as being a polluting and destructive act. In many cases this is true and we condemn mining ventures of this kind. However there is a great amount of good mining can provide to local communities, many of which may be significantly disadvantaged. There are no hard and fast rules governing ethical mining and the issues may be very different from one material or country to another. We rely on extensive research, trusted people on the ground and third party certification. Knowledge is key, no material can be classed as ethically sourced unless you first know its past.
Photo Credit : The World Fair-trade Association
Protection to the environment must be given during the material extraction and rehabilitation once the mining has ceased. For large mining ventures like the deep mining of diamond pipes we look for stable governments who can put these safeguards in place and who have the power to prosecute if needed. Small mining ventures need careful consultation with the land owners, including traditional owners who understand the local environment. Their impact can wildly vary depending on the material being extracted and the specific environment that its being extracted from.
The laws now in place in most developed counties have seen greater outcomes for workers health with all sickness and death from mining reduced significantly over the last 100 years. Unfortunately this is not the case in many undeveloped countries where huge problems still remain. This can be significantly improved with education and safety equipment, but both require money. This is one of the reasons why ethically mined materials may be a little more expensive that other alternatives. There will always be risks to health and life in mining but by putting safeguards in place mine owners can provide their workers and their families with a safer future.
Land ownership and income from the mining venture must be agreed upon by all parties. The financial gain from a small scale mining venture may be tiny by world standards but the funds provided could be of huge benefit to a remote community. Many of the other social impacts from mining are dealt with by the environmental protections and increased health a safety of workers.
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