Are Canadian Diamonds Ethical?

You did the ethical thing and bought a Canadian diamond. You think you are free and clear of the conflicts that plaque diamond mining. At first glance this may seem a fairly reasonable assumption. It’s Canada, a first world country, sophisticated, sensible, strong morality, strict laws. You might think differently if you did a bit of    investigative digging.

First off, Canadian mining companies own 75% (and growing) of the world’s mines.  While Canada definitely does have stricter environmental laws and regulations in place than the majority of the world, they are far from perfect as mining is never without irrevocable environmental damage.  The environmental impact of diamond mining is undeniable and perhaps because it’s Canada one assumes the humanitarian part of the equation doesn’t exist but that would be incorrect to a degree.

Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada

The majority of Canadian mines are on indigenous First Nation’s land and the development of a mine always divides a village as their heritage is strongly steeped in the traditions of their land.  While many of the indigenous people welcome the job’s and the mining companies  bribes of modern recreation centers and other such facilities, for sure they are not welcomed by all. Along with the modernizing of their villages often comes the adversities of increased crime, sexual assaults, sex trade workers and drug and alcohol abuse.

When in other countries these Canadian mining companies follow the rules of that country. Unfortunately and predictably many of these countries have very few or very lax regulations.  Most of these countries are poor and many have corruption in their governments which allow these mining companies to come in and exploit the locals. Meanwhile, the governments share in the billions of dollars generated from mining but rarely is it put back into the infrastructure or sustainability of these villages. In the few places where the government steps in and asks for accommodations for their people, to better their villages, the mining company will agree but the local governments don’t have the clout to enforce on the reneged promises. What happens more often is the villagers are exploited and left with a mess to clean up. The villages are poor and cannot possibly clean up the toxic waste these mining companies leave behind. Quite often toxic still waters become breeding grounds for Malaria or drinking water for wildlife that may wander back into the area, with dire consequences. All to often though, the land is so polluted that nothing grows or lives on it.

The nature of mining is destructive to the ecology of any area.  The breaking and crushing of rock disperses heavy metals into the air – lead, mercury, arsenic, zinc and cadmium and in the case of gold mining, cyanide.  These heavy metals deposit on farmlands and in drinking water as well as being breathed in by the locals.  The health risks are many and can lead to lifelong health issue.  Poisoning that can lead to blood transfusions, amputations and sometimes result in death.  Children are the most susceptible to illness and toxic poisoning, with their health and mental acuity declining each year.  The locals cannot escape the toxins, it pollutes their rivers where they fish for their livelihood and their own food – the fish die off leaving then unable to sustain themselves and their families with “tainted” fish.  The vegetation they grow is dusted with heavy metals as well as the soil it grows in, if it still grows at all.  (You may want to check where your seafood and rice originate).  Often these mines are in areas where locals rely on the biodiversity of their area.  This is also largely true for the indigenous people in Canada.

2015 Gold King Mine Waste Water Spill

For us, the origin of a diamond doesn’t make it ethical if that same company allows and contributes to atrocities in other countries. So, while your diamond may be Canadian, the mining company that dug it out of the ground is also digging diamonds elsewhere and at the end of the day those profits all go into the same pocket.  For an in depth education on Canadian Diamonds one just needs to Google “Canadian mining companies”, you don’t even need to add atrocities, they just go hand in hand. If you truly want an ethical diamond, why not make it a lab created diamond? The same properties as a diamond without all of the conflict.