Is it OK ... to buy diamonds?

Artykuły


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"



Leo Hickman's guide to a good life

Tuesday January 17, 2006
The Guardian
It's not up there with charades or blindman's bluff, admittedly, but those in search of a new parlour game could try suggesting "Explain Sustainability in 100 words or fewer". After all, all the CEOs are playing it these days.
A classic answer - one that really set a new standard for others to follow - was offered by Paul Skinner, chairman of Rio Tinto, the giant mining company that controls the world's largest diamond mine in Australia, in an interview with this paper in 2004. Responding to the question of how a company that makes billions of dollars extracting minerals and ores out of the earth's surface can talk about sustainability, he gave this response:
"The fact that we are an extractive industry dealing with finite resources would suggest prima facie that we cannot be sustainable, but the sustainability of global economic growth requires the input of the commodities we produce and so were we not to produce them that sustainability would be threatened."
This kind of talk - however skewed the logic may appear - offers hope, to some at least, that oft-criticised companies such as Rio Tinto are now alert to their environmental legacy and are seeking to improve their reputations. Similarly, some feel that the woeful ethical reputation of diamonds has improved since the international furore over "conflict diamonds" (diamonds mined and traded illegally to help fund wars in Africa) led 40 countries to sign up to the "Kimberley Process" diamond certification scheme in 2003, meaning they can now be bought with a clear conscience.
It's certainly true that the diamond industry has made efforts to improve its image. However, it is fighting its way out of a particularly dark and deep hole. First, the issue of conflict diamonds is nowhere near being resolved. Last September, Global Witness, the campaign group and key Kimberley Process participant, said the safeguards were not having the desired effect and that diamonds were still being smuggled out of war-torn Côte d'Ivoire via Mali.
Other efforts have been troubled, too. The Council of Responsible Jewellery Practices, founded by stake-holders such as Rio Tinto, Tiffany's and Cartier to improve the industry's reputation, is still struggling to even draft a mission statement following the withdrawal last year of the World Jewellery Federation and the refusal to join by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association.
The fact also remains that getting diamonds out of the ground is necessarily environmentally damaging. With geologists always searching for new diamond-rich "pipes", the countries with the largest mineable deposits remain South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and Russia (that so many of the mines are found in war zones or areas claimed by indigenous populations seems a cruel twist of fate). The world's largest diamond mine is the 45-hectare Argyle mine in the Kimberleys of Western Australia, which produces a third of the world's diamonds - 35m carats a year. Open-cast mining is still favoured by most mining firms - a practice involving the highly energy-intensive movement of millions of tonnes of soil and rock. One particular concern is the polluting effect of diamond mine "tailings" (finely ground ore) on local waterways.
A persistent accusation is that the diamond industry - at every level - is controlled by a small and often self-serving group of firms. De Beers is singled out because it once controlled up to 80% of the global diamond trade and is responsible for the spectacularly successful marketing drive - "A Diamond is Forever" - that made so many fall for the allure of diamonds from the 1940s onwards.
One area of the industry that receives less attention, however, is that up to 90% of the world's diamonds are now cut and polished in India. Cheap labour is the draw, but child labour is also believed to be widespread. The International Labour Organisation says that, even using conservative estimates, 20,000 children in India are now employed in the industry, working 12-14 hour days.
Even if we did not wear diamonds they would still be dug up for their industrial uses, but given so many negative links it seems far from sustainable to create further demand for them.

admittedly- wprawdzie, co prawda
allure- czar, powab
commodity- artykuł, towar
draft- projektować, szkicować
finite- skończony, ograniczony
furore- poruszenie
indigenous- miejscowy, tubylczy
ore- ruda
parlour game- gra towarzyska
persistent- uporczywy, stały
skewed- wypaczony, skrzywiony
sustainability- nieszkodliwość dla środowiska, bezpieczeństwo dla środowiska
sustainable- bezpieczny dla środowiska
widespread- powszechny, rozpowszechniony

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