Environmental cost
Image Courtesy: Edward Burtynsky - 'Nickel Tailings #34', Olivia Jensen, China Water Risk

Mining as an activity has a huge detrimental impact on environment is an undisputable fact. To ensure that this highly profitable commercial venture remain sustainable in the long term, it is vital that the mining companies monitor their environmental impact, report it publically in a transparent manner and take all the necessary steps to mitigate the impact and help restore the environment.

Dismally, only a handful of diamond mining companies are at the forefront when it comes to environment protection, unlike their peers in mining of other metals like gold. Many of the gold mining companies are not just listed but are also leaders in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, where hardly any diamond mining companies have a standing. Apart from Anglo American Plc in the RobecoSAM Gold Class and Rio Tinto in the RobecoSAM Bronze class (both into diversified mining), the Mining sector list of the 2014 index is composed of non-diamond mining companies.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a framework where organizations worldwide report their economic, environmental and social sustainability in a comprehensive manner. Most of the major gold mining companies and non-diamond miners have been reporting their environmental impact over this platform. However, a search of the Sustainability reporting for Mining sector in GRI reveals that among the diamond mining industry, only Alrosa published their Sustainability Report for 2011 on GRI but this report is a superficial group-wide common report and not does not provide any mine-wise data or information. Besides, even basic environmental reporting like GHG emissions is missing. Also beyond the GRI, sadly only 25% of the more than 50 active diamond mines have published their environmental impact in the public domain.

Additionally, hardly any diamond mining companies implement International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) Sustainable Development principles and framework, AA1000 Assurance Standard, enroll to Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), appear on CDP S&P 500 (Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index) or conform to Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), unlike their gold mining peers who wholeheartedly subscribe to such efforts.

With damage to environment in terms of earth displacement, land affected, GHG and other harmful air emissions, water usage, fuel and energy consumption, effect on wildlife, ecology and biodiversity, mined diamonds have massive environmental costs. Due to lack of sufficient data and information available in public domain, the only way to compute the environmental cost of mined diamonds is to consider the data of a few responsible diamond miners. Though, the real impact may actually be much more severe.

[Click on the image depictions below to see full size images]

Environmental cost

On an average, a carat of mined diamond causes the following environmental impact

Environmental cost

If these averages are applied to the 2012 global rough diamond production of 128 Million Carats, following is the environmental impact caused by mined diamonds every year.

Environmental cost


In such an environmentally deteriorating business, it is imperative that diamond miners take responsibility of their enterprising actions and help restore the damage caused to environment, starting with implementing good Environment Management Systems (EMS) and becoming ISO 14001 compliant, which currently only 35% of diamond mines are.

Considering the alarming impact on environment, if no radical changes are made to the existing diamond mining practices it will become utterly difficult to save our planet (forget about spreading the emotions of love and romance)!!


Environmental cost


Disclaimer: The information, figures, statistics etc. presented above is based on the limited info available in public domain. Due care has been taken to present a true scenario, however since lot of necessary info is not available and industry being dynamic where changes happen rapidly, the above info may not necessarily be accurate. If you’ve come across any error in figures, statistics, facts etc., please do contact us and we’ll accordingly modify the post.


  1. It is high time that diamond miners step up and own the repercussions of their actions on environment and do everything possible to reduce the harm. Otherwise, people will simply start switching to more eco-friendly options.

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