Diamond mining comes with extremely detrimental environmental impact. So much so that 2012’s global diamond production of 128 million carats resulted in approximately 324,451 million liters of water usage – more than 5 months of water consumption by Kenya’s entire population. With such immense repercussions, diamond miners should be doing everything to mitigate the harm and help save the environment. But in Zimbabwe’s Marange region, Diamond miners are blatantly ignoring this responsibility and continue to pollute the environment.
Despite several complaints about diamond miners polluting the water sources of the country, Zimbabwean watchdog – Environmental Management Agency (EMA) continues to collect only fines from these miners while letting them further destroy the country’s environment. Purpose of any fine, as one will agree, is to deter the offender from repeating it and compensate the victim. However, in case of Zimbabwe, neither the diamond miners are deterred by the fine and happily continue paying it as if it is some sort of official fee to violate rules and norms, while EMA continues to collect it as if it is a source of budgeted governmental revenue.
EMA has come under fire by local communities in Marange who are blasting the agency for letting the diamond miners continue polluting the region’s rivers and other water sources instead of shutting down their operations till 100% compliance of environmental norms is achieved. Local villager Terence Mutsago mentioned that EMA was profiteering from the environmental norm violations of diamond miners and subsequent fine collections from them. Lovemore Mukwada of Chiadzwa Community Development Trust expressed his disappointment towards EMA, which failed to control the perpetual offenders.
The biggest victims of environmental destruction by diamond miners are the local communities who have to deal with the heavily polluted rivers and water sources. However, neither any reported money has been spent to clean up these water sources, nor any compensation given to the local communities. In well-regulated markets and countries such violations are dealt sternly. When similar such environmental concern arose at De Beers’ Snap Lake diamond mine in Canada, the company faced risk of mine closure due to non-compliance of water license. However, the scenario in Zimbabwe sadly indicates possible corruption and governmental apathy towards any environmental concerns.