Lab-grown diamondsThe inhumane conditions of diamond mines have become a widely scrutinized issue in recent years. Critics have labeled these diamonds as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds”. These evocative epithets illustrate the historically exploitative labor practices prevalent among the diamond industry. Due to the growing consumer awareness of unethical mining practices, the criteria for purchasing diamonds have experienced a crucial shift. Since the turn of the century, consumers have largely stopped settling for anything less than ethically produced diamonds. Recently, lab-grown diamonds have emerged as a certifiably ethical alternative to traditionally mined diamonds.

The Rise of the Lab-Grown Diamond

Lab-grown diamonds are synthesized in laboratories with industrial processes that mimic how diamonds form inside the Earth or in outer space. In recent years, scientists have greatly improved the techniques needed to synthetically manufacture diamonds. As recently as the early 2000s, the only lab-grown diamonds available were either very small or tinted with impurities. In the last five years, however, the diamond industry has perfected the synthetic fabrication of diamonds. These technological advancements allow for the production of large, clear stones that bear no significant difference from natural diamonds.

This technological advancement has taken off quickly. In 2016, around a dozen lab diamond growers and sellers formed a trade group called the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA). The IGDA now has around 50 members. Lab-grown diamonds now account for around 2-3% of the $14 billion diamond market. Some analysts predict that lab-grown diamonds will occupy up to 10% of the market by 2030.

Growing Acceptance of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Large corporations and organizations have made adjustments to welcome the lab-grown diamond into the diamond industry. The Federal Trade Commission has expanded the definition of a diamond to include lab-grown gems. In addition, the FTC has dropped “synthetic” as a recommended descriptor for lab-grown diamonds. The success of lab-grown diamonds has even pushed De Beers Group, the global diamond monopoly which once vowed never to sell man-made diamonds, to create a lab-grown diamond line known as Lightbox Jewelry.

Consumers have also demonstrated their interest in the lab-grown diamond. Primarily, lab-grown diamonds are often cheaper than mined diamonds. This allows consumers to purchase a larger diamond ring than they otherwise would be able to afford. In a 2018 consumer research survey conducted by MVI Marketing, around 66% of millennials said they would consider a lab-grown diamond and 23% said they would definitely buy a lab-grown diamond ring.

Merging Lab-Grown Diamonds and Activism

Several smaller companies that offer lab-grown diamonds have formed as well. These companies utilize their diamonds’ ethical sourcing and sustainability as a major selling point. Additionally, these companies are engaging in many forms of activism. Many of these companies divert a percentage of their profits to poverty reduction and humanitarian efforts around the world.

Collectively, the efforts of these companies will bring more awareness to issues in the diamond industry as well as aid the communities that were directly exploited by unethical mining practices. As technological and industrial capabilities increase, it is hoped that the diamond industry will take advantage and slowly transition away from its dependence on hazardous mines and labor practices.

Lab-Grown Diamond Companies Funding Humanitarian Projects:

  • MiaDonna: In 2007, Anna-Mieke Anderson founded MiaDonna. She felt compelled to offer a sustainable alternative to mined diamonds after researching the history of conflict diamonds. In the last three years, this company has dedicated more than 20% of its earnings towards its charity foundation, The Greener Diamond. The Greener Diamond gives back to those harmed by the diamond trade and educates consumers about their role in buying conflict diamonds. In addition, this foundation also funds various initiatives in Liberia, Togo and Sierra Leone that address food insecurity and education.
  • BrilliantEarth: Brilliant Earth sells both carefully sourced and lab-grown diamonds. Each year, they pledge 5% of profits towards giving back to mining communities. Presently, BrilliantEarth is funding the Brilliant Mobile School in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This school serves primary aged students in a mining community. The school aims to educate young children and ultimately expand their economic opportunities beyond working in the nearby diamond mine.
  • Do Amore: Do Amore was founded by Krish Himmatramka after struggling to find an ethical and sustainable engagement ring for his girlfriend. His company sells both carefully sourced and lab-grown diamonds. Additionally, Do Amore tries to use recycled materials in both their jewelry and packaging. Their main philanthropic focus is fighting the water crisis. So far, Do Amore has built 39 wells in five nations and helped 9,885 people.

– Antoinette Fang
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras
After decades of military rule, Honduras established a freely-elected civilian government in 1982. Honduras remains the second-poorest country in South America, however. Much of the country’s economy still depends on U.S. trade and remittance. The CIA estimates that about 15 percent of investing in Honduras is direct foreign investments from U.S. firms. Honduras’s GDP is on a constant rise, but it also reflects the unequal distribution of wealth. This unequal distribution of wealth contributes to the state of sanitation in Honduras. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras

  1. A total of 91.2 percent of Honduras’ population has access to an improved drinking water source. However, access to an improved water source is more limited in rural areas where most of the country’s impoverished populace lives. An estimated 63 percent of the rural population lives in poverty.
  2. People in rural communities rely on unprotected sources. The rural populace, which does not have access to improved water facilities and infrastructures, is forced to rely on small springs and wells that are not protected. This reliance on natural water sources means that access to water for the rural populace can be difficult during the dry season.
  3. Decentralizing water and sanitation services helped sanitation in Honduras. In 2003, Honduras passed the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector Framework Law, which decentralized the water and sanitation services. The World Bank reported that this decentralization improved water services for approximately 108,000 families and sanitation services for 3,786 families. 
  4. The World Bank is contributing to decentralizing water and sanitation in Honduras. Through this project, the World Bank is helping to establish autonomous municipal water and sanitation service providers, thereby increasing sanitation coverage in Honduras.
  5. In 2015, 80 percent of the population had access to basic sanitation services. Similar to access to improved water sources, access to improved sanitation facilities is higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Those who do not have access to basic sanitation services are more likely to contract diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.
  6. New technologies help produce clean water for Honduras. Working with the Pentair Foundation, the Water Missions International (WMI) was able to provide water filtration machines in the Honduran district of Colon. The machine uses filtration and chemical disinfection to produce 1,000 gallons of water for less than 75 cents. WMI also established microenterprises in Colon, where local communities obtain ownership over their community’s filtration machine.
  7. Agua de Honduras program aims to provide local communities with data about their water source. Agua de Honduras provides communities, especially in the dry western regions of Honduras, with data on hydrology, soil properties, water demands and future climate scenarios to local communities. The USAID supports this program from 2016 to 2018 with an investment of $800,000.
  8. Mining in Honduras poses a danger to the quality and quantity of water in Honduras. Mining is a lucrative industry in Honduras. In 2016, mining contributed one percent to the country’s GDP and made up five percent of the country’s exports. However, there are reports of local mines in Honduras contaminating the local water source with heavy metals. Furthermore, the water demand from mining operations can lead to water scarcity for the local community.
  9. Environmental activists and communities in Honduras are in danger of violence and death threats. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental activism. In 2017, for example, people of the Pajuiles community fought against the construction of a dam that polluted their community’s water source. When the community set up road-blocks to prevent heavy machinery from getting to the construction sights, armed police force and swat teams forcefully removed them from the roadblocks. A protester in the same group was later murdered by a police officer.
  10. Climate change threatens Honduras’s access to water. Inside Climate News’s 2019 interview with the small rural community of El Rosario included a discussion of the effects of climate change for the people of Honduras. Residents of El Rosario reported that the prolonged dry season is hurting their crops and their livelihood. Some experts suggest that this lack of water could lead to further destabilization of Honduras’s political, economic and social climate. As many people will be forced to migrate from the effects of climate change, experts also suggest that there could be nearly 4 million climate migrants by 2050.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras highlight the progress that has been made, as well as the continuing struggles. Moving forward, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations continue to make sanitation in Honduras a priority.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty-Alleviation Scheme
Mining, a model town set up by Xi Jinping, China’s president, has paved the way for new poverty alleviation plans focused on poor individuals and the skills they can bring to the table. For many years, aid for the poor has grouped individuals together to streamline aid processing. However, this type of aid does not take into account the individual and can actually end up costing more for the sake of simplicity.

This new method focuses on the interests, skills, environment and situation of every individual. Personalized poverty alleviation plans ensure that the poor will be helped better than assisting with the general development of poor areas in the hopes that wealth will trickle down to the poorest.

In Mining, without help, around 400 citizens would live under the poverty line, which is listed as 2,300 yuan a year. The poverty alleviation scheme worked through a complex system where Mining listed all the problems and requirements for all the poor. The government used this to determine the most efficient way to approach and help these citizens. Skills were taken into account to best match individuals with jobs in order to reduce frictional unemployment and provide the poor with jobs.

Although 46% of the poor in Mining has mental or physical disabilities, creating personalized plans allows for individuals to be supported by the government, rather than be lost or ignored by individual hiring practices resulting in unemployment and poverty.

China has been known as a leader in poverty reduction. Since 1980, about 700 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty. The country has been able to reduce poverty in cities and decrease the number of rural people living below the poverty line.

China has also incurred successful economic growth based on job generation through the poorest citizens, and the poverty alleviation scheme has allowed for China’s poorest towns to flourish.

Mining is an example of one method of government intervention-based poverty alleviation that the rest of the world can learn from. This project also preaches the value of each citizen and individuality.

World leaders may not be aware that personalized projects like this cost more time than money. Individualizing poverty reduction efforts on a massive scale can lead to higher employment and less poverty on a smaller budget.

China’s poverty alleviation scheme is an impressive example of poverty reduction and shows that large-scale personalization could be key to reducing poverty around the globe.

Francis Hurtado Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Guinea Persists
More than half of Guinea’s population lives below the poverty line despite the country’s great mineral wealth. Guinea ranks 178th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Poverty in Guinea is an immense problem, as 40% of children below the age of five are chronically malnourished.

Foreign investments have unfortunately been dropping due to political, social and governmental crises, including emerging tensions with refugee populations coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

There are around 25 foreign international mining companies that currently run operations in Guinea, as well as four domestic mining companies. Guinea has the largest export of bauxite in the world — the primary source of aluminum — as well as possessing vast iron ore, gold and diamond reserves, but, unfortunately, this generation of wealth is lost on the population, as the country gains little compensation for its mineral riches.

Guinea has also been faced with an Ebola crisis during the global outbreak between 2014-2015. It is clear that it had a profound effect on various social aspects of Guinean life. Unemployment doubled in urban areas, and many families withdrew their children from school.

Today, Guinea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has rebounded by 5.2% from the shock of the Ebola crisis, but, unfortunately, the growing economy has been unable to reduce poverty in Guinea, as it persists in rural areas where 67% of the population resides.

The current government of Guinea headed by President Condé, the country’s first democratically elected leader, received help from the World Bank. Jointly, they started the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Project. The project aims to cut poverty in Guinea by investing in transport and energy, as well as cutting back red tape on job and business creation. By increasing public transit connectivity, President Condé hopes to allow rural workers to go to work in the city. As of now, these workers are landlocked and dependent on subsistence farming for a living.

Guinea has a bright future ahead if it is able to keep its current foreign investment status. With the help of foreign investors, it will be able to continue to develop its MSME Development Project.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

Mining in Malawi: Understanding the Conflict
The relationship between the mining industry and the country of Malawi is burdened with complexity. Mining in Malawi promises substantial economic growth, yet it simultaneously has the potential to violate human rights and destroy the natural ecosystem.

Malawi profits through the mining industry, as the country is rich in economic deposits of uranium. Both Malawian granite and sandstone host uranium reserves, such as the Karoo sandstone in Karonga, Malawi.

The district of Karonga lies on the northwest side of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is one of the only freshwater lakes on the entire continent of Africa and is a key source of livelihood for over 1.5 million Malawians.

While clearly rich in resources, the country itself is impoverished. Due to this, the government has signed many agreements with extraction companies, hoping to increase exports.

Some national organizations are concerned about the mining industry’s effect on the precious and fragile ecosystem of Lake Malawi, yet the government has prioritized economic interests.

In 2007, a subsidiary of Paladin Energy took interest in Karonga due to a uranium deposit in the district. Due to the immense economic potential of the mine, called Kayelekera, the government agreed to let Paladin extract uranium in 2009. The government was issued 15 percent equity in the subsidiary.

As expected, the mine stimulated a crucial boost to the country’s foreign currency account. Over the following 10 years, the uranium industry overall is expected to raise Malawi’s GDP by 10 percent, account for 30 percent of exports and increase exports by 25 percent.

Due to company promises, many people in Malawi flocked to Karonga, hoping the uranium industry would generate employment, build clinics and increase general infrastructure in the new mining community.

Others, however, were not adequately informed that uranium mining was going to take place around their homes. None were aware that the Kayelekera mine would disrupt their entire way of life.

Reporters from Human Rights Watch conducted research for a year in Karonga, interviewing nearly 80 villagers who had been affected by uranium mining. They found that the general lack of government oversight and corporate responsibility harmed Malawians.

The construction of the Kayelekera mine caused villagers to be evicted from their homes. Many were only notified of the relocation at the last minute. Without any time to find other places to stay, these Malawians found themselves temporarily homeless.

While Paladin did offer compensation for the forced removal, the sum was insufficient to completely cover the cost of buying new land and building a new home. The company offered about MWK 50,000 to each family, which currently equates to about $70.

The uranium mining in Malawi damaged maize crops, dried rice fields and destroyed irrigation channels. As most of the villagers around Karonga live off of subsistence farming, threatened agriculture endangers survival.

Secrecy around the operations of the mine led to Malawian suspicion. When the people in Karonga asked the corporation to test the water for contamination, Paladin claimed to have a monitoring system in place. The company then refused to release any results. This lack of transparency has left many villagers concerned for their health.

As the laws surrounding mining in Malawi have not been updated since the Environmental Management Act of 1996, amendments are well overdue. In order to protect the interests of its citizens, the government of Malawi needs to strengthen regulations over extractive corporations, educate its people about the risks of mining, enforce institutional transparency and take measures to mitigate any damage.

The Kayelekera mine was closed in 2014 for repairs, yet the uranium industry in Malawi is just beginning. Moving forward, the Malawian government needs to enforce corporate responsibility on all companies who wish to extract natural resources from their country.

This conflict over mining in Malawi ignites fundamental questions over the delicate balance between economic development and social responsibility. With a more comprehensive legal framework, the government of Malawi may not have to choose one or the other. After further reform, the government can protect its people while simultaneously fostering social, institutional and economic development.

Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

Tigui CamaraTigui Camara, a former model, is one of the youngest mining executives in Africa and the only woman in Guinea with her own mining company. Given that mining in West Africa is predominately run by middle-aged men, the magnitude of Camara’s success is remarkable.

Camara’s career began on the runway when she was only 14 years old — and soon after escalated into the business world. While living in Morocco, Camara was able to graduate high school early and earn a college degree in business management. Several years later, Camara moved to the U.S. and was hired by a modeling agency in New York.

During her time in the modeling field, Camara made friends with jewelers who had companies in Africa and was inspired to take action. Camara remembers thinking, “If he could do it, I could do it. He is not even from Africa or Guinea, but he has been successful at doing this. Being a native, why can’t I also be successful?”

Camara began saving in order to open her own mining company and she is now the Chairman and CEO of Camara Gold and Mining Network and the CEO of Tigui Mining Group. Her companies acquire and develop mining assets with a focus on gold, diamond and associated minerals.

However, Camara faced setbacks when she hired a business partner who was embezzling the company’s funds for the first year. She also set up her business during a time of political turmoil in Guinea. The country had just undergone a political revolt and 2009 was marked by violent protests and civil unrest.

To make matters worse, Guinea was hit by the Ebola crisis, which began in December 2013 and continued for around two years. It shut down the economy and businesses were hit hard. As a result, Camara stopped all activity until it was safe to return to work.

Finally in recent months, Camara has been able to stabilize the business with proper funding and investors. She claims, “While infrastructure and electricity shortages have created a challenging business environment in the mineral-rich nation, the government is taking steps to improve its industries and encourage foreign investment.”

This provides the U.S. a unique opportunity to purchase gold, diamond and other mineral materials from a deserving business leader. Tigui Camara had to overcome many obstacles in order to get where she is today. Her background in the fashion industry hindered her ability to succeed as an entrepreneur at first but now she has a well-established name and is respected in the mining industry in West Africa.

Megan Hadley

Sources: How We Made it in Africa, Tigui Mining Group, Black Enterprise

Artisanal gold mining is the process of extracting metals from the earth by independent miners, who utilize the mined metal for small-scale independent projects. These miners, or artisans, work independently of mining companies, and are very often non-compliant with regulations pertaining to mining and metallurgy.

Artisanal mining of gold is a significant source of income in low-income countries with noteworthy deposits of gold, such as Colombia and Peru. Mining companies hold the monopoly over most of the gold ore in the areas, and the miners employed by their contractors are not particularly well-paid. Artisanal mining allows for the miner to extract as well as finish the gold product, which gives a higher monetary return than the wage labor in the mines.

Notwithstanding the somewhat uncertain nature of artisanal mining, it employs an estimated 30 million people worldwide, mostly in the developing countries. Some people adopt this practice seasonally as an alternate to farming; in other instances, gold mining is their sole source of livelihood.

Despite the financial incentive of independent mining, the challenges associated with it are substantial as well. The most immediate one of these challenges is the issue of extracting the gold metal from its mined ore. To ensure a decent yield, an effective metallurgy process needs to be used. In absence of industrial purification, the next best alternative is usually the use of mercury extractions.

Mercury extraction of gold was once a popular technique for the metallurgical removal of gold from its ore. It has largely been replaced with other methods now due to its potential for health and environmental hazards. In developing countries, this process is still popular for artisanal mining. The method involves amalgamating gold ore with mercury metal. The gold metal is melted into the mercury, while the impurities are separated. The gold-mercury amalgam is then heated to a high temperature, where the mercury evaporates, and pure gold is left behind.

The method, although effective, uses the highly toxic mercury metal. The evaporation process yields the highly dangerous mercury vapor. The improper handling of mercury in artisanal mining is a major issue for the environment, as well as the health of the miners. Mercury can be inhaled in airborne droplets from the extraction process. The inhalation can cause potentially fatal damage to the lungs, as well as kidney failure, seizures and permanent brain damage. Mercury poisoning in pregnant women can cause long-term cerebral damage to the fetus.

The implications of improper handling of mercury are vast; international regulations encourage the elimination or reduction of mercury usage in metal purification. Nevertheless, almost 400 metric tons of airborne, toxic mercury are produced from gold mining each year. The miners and people in close vicinity of these mines are the ones to face the harshest consequences of mercury pollution. The continued usage of mercury extraction is a manifestation of poverty of resources, both financial and educational, that hinders the safety of artisanal mining.

To eradicate this harmful practice, the World Bank has launched several programs that educate miners to utilize safer, cost-effective methods. These programs facilitate a better selling price and demand for products manufactured through these alternative methods. In a program initiated by the US State Department, 10,000 Peruvian miners were taught alternative metallurgy methods by 2013, and encouraged to sell the ores at a higher price than the amalgamated gold price. These methods successfully decreased the mercury production in the area by 50 percent.

The problem of mercury pollution and the health hazards it poses to artisanal miners in developing countries is one that has garnered much attention globally. Training the miners in better extraction techniques, as well as incentives to trade crude ore can eliminate the problems associated with mercury without damaging the livelihoods of the artisanal miners.

Atifah Safi

Sources: World Bank, Science Direct, Human Rights Watch, EPA
Photo: The Ecologist

Business deals between companies headquartered at opposite ends of the earth have become the rule, rather than the exception. These deals may make headlines for their magnitude, but not for their intercontinental nature. But recently, two such deals caught this writer’s attention. Though they received little coverage in the press, these deals exemplify the benefits of poverty reduction and development not only in countries experiencing development, but also in developed and undeveloped countries alike.

Both deals concern Zijin Mining Group Co., a Chinese firm, which late last month purchased large shares of two mines owned by Canadian firms. According to Bloomberg, Zijin bought a 50 percent share of the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea from Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. and a 49.5 percent share of Kamoa mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. These deals infuse Canadian physical capital with Chinese financial capital, all while helping Papua New Guinea and the DR Congo grow their exports.

For Barrick and Ivanhoe, these deals amount to a crucial injection of capital. Both companies have faced financial difficulties recently: Barrick aims cut $3 billion of its $10 billion net debt by year’s end, while Ivanhoe declared bankruptcy at the beginning of this month after negotiations with creditors fell through. Both firms are expected to pursue expanded mining partnerships with Zijin in the coming years, so as to keep themselves solvent. For Western firms like Barrick and Ivanhoe, capital-rich corporations based in the developing world represent invaluable allies as global competition grows stiffer.

For Zijin, these deals not only offer a chance to get some cash off its hands, they also represent the culmination of decades-long poverty reduction efforts in China. Fifty years ago, a business like Zijin would have been unthinkable in China or any other low-development country; had China been a capitalist economy, foreign firms would have likely dominated its primary sector. But as China’s domestic industrial capacity grew, poverty rates in China plummeted. Firms like Zijin have turned poor countries into middle-income countries. Now, these countries are poised for a new stage of development as domestic firms go global by partnering with Western businesses.

Last but not least, these deals symbolize an opportunity for development and poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea and the Congo, where the mines in question are located. By aiding struggling Western firms, Zijin ensures that locals will remain employed and that transit infrastructure is well maintained. Employment and infrastructure are not only useful in and of themselves, they also give other businesses a chance to proliferate and make poverty reduction efforts simpler. Furthermore, these deals underscore what happens when a country outgrows its poverty—it begins trading intensively with other countries, many of which it helps to develop in the process.

Zijin, Barrick and Ivanhoe are not household names, and may never become household names. Nevertheless, these three firms exemplify how poverty reduction pays dividends for developed countries, developing countries and countries that have yet to develop. American firms take heed, partnerships with companies in the developing world help all countries, not just your bottom line.

– Leo Zucker

Sources: Barron’s Asia, Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Globe and Mail, The Northern Miner, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance
Photo: Demanjo

Afghanistan_Mineral_Mine_Gold_Natural Resources
Afghanistan is a country trying desperately to recover from decades of conflict. From the Soviet invasion in 1979 to the United State’s invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has suffered a multitude of setbacks and developing world devastation to its people, culture and way of life. However, Afghanistan’s way forward is sitting right under its feet.

Afghanistan’s mineral wealth of gold, copper, iron and other rare metals is valued up to 3 trillion, according to NPR. This type of money could truly turn Afghanistan from an impoverished and suffering country whose largest export is currently heroin to a country that is the envy of its neighbors.

On top of this wealth comes a recent discovery by a small group of Pentagon officials and an American geologist, that there is an estimated 1 trillion dollars worth of the rare metal lithium in massive quantities as well. An internal Pentagon memo noted that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” a New York Times article recently stated.

The un-mined potential of the mineral wealth is so great that many believe it will attract investors before any type of mining becomes profitable.

The issue of attracting companies to begin investing in the country is another matter entirely.  Afghanistan’s current instability is of major concern, the NATO pullout of the majority of its troops at the end of 2014 has most major companies in a holding matter waiting to see what changes will occur once Afghanistan is virtually in charge of all facets of running itself.

Afghan officials have recently opened up a nearly 1 billion dollar cement tender which is in part due to the fact that as of right now, Afghanistan imports virtually all of its cement (which is a 1 billion dollar drain on the economy).

Another noted fear by many potential investors is the issue of corruption in any official dealings that outside investors may have with the Afghani government. Afghanistan is routinely noted for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2012, its corruption rank according to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index placed Afghanistan at the bottom with North Korea and Somalia.

All three countries scored an 8 out of 100, 176 countries were studied in order to compile the full table. Afghanistan has long been a country that has endured conflict after conflict, and a multitude of hardships and struggles.

However, with a lot of hard work by both international and local Afghan institutions; the nearly limitless mineral potential under its feet could truly make Afghanistan one of the most important mining countries in the world. There is not been a real chance for a country to do so much good for itself in a long time, but if both the world and Afghanistan work together, this could be the turning point that this war ravaged country so badly needs.

Arthur Fuller

Sources: Huffington Post, New York Times, Reuters, NPR, Huffington Post- 2
Photo: Global Post

Protests against mining Uruguay’s large reserves of ore mount, as civil society groups like Uruguay Libre Campaign propose a referendum that will create an amendment banning large scale open-pit mining in the Latin American country. Headed by the mining company Minera Aratiri of the British Zamin Ferrous company, the Valentine Project (named for its location in the Valentine region) will create a mining site 155 miles south of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital.

A 130 mile-long underground pipeline will be created to transfer the slurry from the mines to a mining port off the Uruguayan coast, Rio de la Plata.The project promises 18 million tons of ore per year from the 2,500 million tons of ore the country houses. Iron ore is used in construction as steel and for developing infrastructure. Presently, Uruguay exports beef and grains but hopes to add iron ore to the list.

The Valentines Project is an investment that can total up to $3 billion.

Previous protests against mining in Uruguay were in 2008 when global mining company Rio Tinto aimed to develop a mining port in Nueva Palmira and Colonia Agraciada.

The project was set to cost around $205 million but was eventually terminated due to the financial crisis in 2009.

Apart from imposing upon localities, the mining in Uruguay project would have destroyed the environment as well as polluting the waters and air of the region.

Similar ecological consequences threaten the environment with the Valentine Project, including land erosion, pollution and poison gas emissions.

Currently, the referendum for a constitutional amendment is pending, an act that is meant to overturn a law that legalizes large-scale mining in Uruguay, which was passed in September 2013.

The September law passed legislature with a 52-30 vote, effectively imposing taxes and setting environmental regulations. Company profits from mining will be taxed 25 percent while all mining projects will be taxed 38 percent.

Whether the referendum will pass or not, large scale mining in Uruguay is here to stay.

 – Miles Abadilla

Sources: Earth is Land Journal,, Upside Down WorldMines and Communities,
Photo: Lemur Project