1. Civil wars
In the past 15 years, diamond mining has fueled brutal civil wars in six countries in Africa. The war in Congo alone has claimed more than 5 million lives.
Government militaries use horrific violence to maintain control of people and resources in mining regions.
Although the precious metals and gems are worth billions, most miners live in extreme poverty. Without access to global markets, miners are forced to sell to middlemen at bargain prices. Over one million diamond diggers in Africa earn less than a dollar a day.
4. Rape and torture
Armed rebel groups terrorize villages with fires, torture, and violent sexual attacks. Government militaries use torture and rape to maintain control.
5. Forced labor and child labor
Children as young as five years old are forced into dangerous jobs in gold and diamond mining. An estimated one million children work as gold miners.
6. Mercury pollution
Many gold miners rely on mercury to separate gold from unwanted minerals. As a result, gold mining is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of man-made mercury pollution each year. Mercury poisoning is a serious public health problem, causing damage to an adult’s brain, heart, and lungs.
7. Cyanide spills
Industrial gold mining uses cyanide during the gold extraction process, often leading to leaks that contaminate the environment.
8. Ecosystem devastation
Irresponsible mining can destroy landscapes and cause environmental harm. The land becomes scarred with abandoned mining pits filled with mosquito-infested water. Wildlife has vanished and land once suitable for agriculture becomes wasteland.
9. Dangerous working conditions
Tunnel collapses, falling rocks, underground fires, and many other hazards make mining for precious metals and gems a highly dangerous occupation.
Natural resources, including gems and precious metals, provide opportunity for corruption. Profits are frequently directed toward strengthening despotic governments. The money from mining allows oppressive governments to stay in power, while the people often live in extreme poverty.
Source: Blood Diamonds: 10 Reasons to Care Where Your Jewelry Came From
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