Diamonds Suck; De Beers Gives Up

Back in 2006 Josh Kaufman got married and during that process he discover the sham of modern diamonds – they aren’t that valuable. Kaufman created the website Diamonds Suck to raise awareness of a diamond alternative: maisonette. It was known then that blood diamonds were a problem and still today people are dying for something that can be made in a lab. Diamond companies don’t like being portrayed as killers (and destroyers of nature) pushed back with marketing efforts; while that was happening they were trying to fend off another threat: fake diamonds.

Today there is no reason to spend a large sum on diamonds for a ring and there’s no reason to continue mining the planet for them. Indeed, it’s good to read that the world’s largest diamond miner, De Beers, has admitted defeat and is switching to manufacturing diamonds.

Here’s Kaufman’s rationale for not evening considering diamonds:

If I can prevent a single reader from needlessly dropping $6,000-10,000+ on a diamond engagement ring, this site will be a success. Financial worries are the #1 cause of stress in a married relationship – there is absolutely NO excuse to start your married life by taking on that level of debt.

Moissanite is a rare, naturally-occuring gemstone that is typically found in very small quantities in meteorites, corundum deposits, and kimberlite. (The chemical name of moissanite is Silicon Carbide.) Moissanite has several qualitites in common with diamond: it is transparent, extremely hard (9.25 on the Mohs scale, compared to 10 for diamond), and has a high index of refraction (2.65 – 2.69, compared to 2.42 for diamond). When a large rough moissanite sample is cut and polished, the end result is a very bright, brilliant, transparent gemstone that is indistinguishable from diamond to the human eye.

Diamonds suck

EU Launches Urban Mining Project

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The European Union’s newest mining project focuses on urban areas throughout the continent. Their ProSUM project built a database of metals, chemicals, and materials brought into the EU market over the last ten plus years; the idea is that the produced goods can be “mined” again. It’s a really novel way to approach recycle by positioning the recycling process as a mining opportunity. To help companies and organizations understand the plentitude of materials available in existing products (most of which are in landfills or recycling centres) they launched a website the Urban Mine Platform.

The project outcomes are embedded in the European Commission’s (EC) Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) in order to create a more comprehensive and structured repository of knowledge related to primary and secondary sources consumed in the EU, relevant for many stakeholders:

  • Manufacturers can gain confidence about future recycled raw material supplies.
  • Recyclers will have better intelligence about the changes in product types and material content which impact on their business and provide future recovery potential.
  • The mining industry will have greater certainty about the quantities and types of materials needed in the marketplace, mitigating risk and improving profitability.
  • Policymakers will be better informed on raw material supplies, which affect jobs and financial institutions, and how materials are linked to energy consumption.
  • Researchers will have better data quantity, quality, completeness and reliability.

Read more.

Canada to Monitor Behaviour of Corporations Aboard

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Canada announced yesterday that, like other nations, the country will be monitoring how Canadian corporations behave beyond its borders. Over the years there have been too many accounts of corporations based in Canada getting into conflicts and abusing communities of people internationally. Obviously this sort of behaviour is bad for people and tarnishes any positive thoughts people have about Canada. It’s up to the new role of the ombudsperson to check to see that Canadian corporations don’t break any human rights or the like outside the nation’s borders.

The role of the Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise will be to work towards resolving conflicts between local communities and Canadian companies operating abroad.

The position will focus on several sectors including mining, oil and gas and the garment sector.

It will also have the power to independently investigate and make recommendations in cases involving human rights complaints.

Read more.

Chile Says Yes to Penguins, No to Mining

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Chile has recently decided not to approve a mining proposal in an area that harbours endanger species, including penguins. This is really nice to see since on the other side of South America Brazil has done the opposite by opening up a huge area of the amazon. Let’s hope that Chile is a positive influence on Brazil. In the meantime we can celebrate that Chile is thinking about both the present and the future of our planet and people.

The area is home to 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins as well as other endangered species, including blue whales, fin whales and sea otters.

Environment Minister Marcelo Mena said: “I firmly believe in development, but it cannot be at the cost of our environmental heritage or cause risk to health, or to unique ecological areas in the world.”

Mr Mena said the decision of the ministerial committee had been based on technical aspects and the evidence of fourteen agencies and was taken without “political considerations.”

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Blockchain Technology to Track Real Blocks

Blockchain technology is changing the world of commerce and law, now it can be used to track real world blocks instead of just digital blocks. The technology got attention thanks to the rise of Bitcoin, which is still going strong, and has been improved since then. More recent takes on the technology like Ethereum have evolved blockchains to be more robust, faster, and malleable for unique circumstances. A new startup, Peer Ledger, wants to use this technology to monitor ethical mining practices.

However, Ms. Jutla says there is mounting pressure from the international community to stop the unethical production of minerals, and she says Peer Ledger’s Mimosi product provides a solution to this problem. Mimosi uses a private permissioned blockchain, which chronologically and permanently logs information that’s copied across a computer network accessed by multiple collaborating parties. When a transaction is carried out, it’s grouped together in a cryptographically protected block. In the case of the Mimosi technology, every transaction involving a source of ore can be linked back to older blocks containing previous sales transactions for the ore. This allows Mimosi users to trace gold and other precious and industrial metals (mainly tin, tantalum and tungsten) from the refiner, to the processor, to the distributor.

Ms. Jutla is confident customers will want Mimosi. Not only does she think the technology will make it tougher for unethical sources of precious and industrial metals to make it into the supply chain, she says it will reduce a client’s compliance costs in this area by 75 per cent.

Read more.

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