“I am bullish on the future of the diamond business. Three reasons for this optimism... new discoveries, extending mine life and the increasing demand for diamonds”, says Martin Leake

Martin Leake is a PhD exploration geologist and Six Sigma black belt who has been involved in the rough diamond market since 2004. He worked for BHP Billiton for 22 years and recently left Grib Diamonds where he helped set up a world-class marketing...

18 september 2017

Diamond exploration junior obtained conclusive proof of diamond-bearing kimberlites in Russia’s North

OOO Proex Service, which is searching for diamonds in the Arkhangelsk Region of Russia, discovered seven kimberlite pipes in the Kozolsky license area having spent 15 months for the find. One of the pipes is very similar to the highly diamondiferous...

11 september 2017

People do not just make fun in the social media, they make purchases there

Oksana Senatorova has been famous in the jewellery world for a long time as a publisher of the ‘Navigator in the Jewellery Trade’ journal, organizer of the international contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store of the Year’, curator of professional events and...

04 september 2017

‘There is no illegal tanzanite mining in Tanzania’

Richland Resources, which wholly-owned TanzaniteOne until the Tanzanian government forced it to relinquish half of its stake to the State Mining Corporation (STAMICO), exited the country in 2015 to focus on its operations in Australia. The formalisation...

28 august 2017

David Block: “Intellectual property theft is not just Sarine's problem...whole industry should combat this phenomenon.”

For more than 15 years, David Block served in various senior positions at Sarine Technologies in Israel and India. From 2012 until his appointment as CEO in 2017, Block was Sarine's Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for...

21 august 2017

Mir Disaster Puts Diamond Industry's Excellent Record In The Spotlight

11 september 2017

By Abraham Dayan

Just a month after the terrible disaster at ALROSA's Mir mine in Yakutia where eight miners lost their lives following a sudden flooding at the underground operation, attention turns to the safety record of the diamond mining industry. It might appear to be too soon to talk about the subject with the memory of the catastrophe still fresh in the mind and with families and friends of the eight miners still grieving terribly, but the accident nonetheless leads our attention to focus on the safety precautions and standards that are in place.

Firstly, however, the Russian authorities must be praised for immediately setting about the rescue operation which extracted 143 miners. More than 300 rescue workers fought continuously for over three weeks to find the eight missing men in conditions that are too awful for most people to possibly imagine, with a reported 40,000 tons of water above where the miners were located. That enormous mass of water, together with tons of rock and suffocating mud, could have broken through at any moment, and it was with an understandably heavy heart that the rescue operation was ended.

As WFDB President Ernie Blom said in a media release: "I would like to praise the speedy response by ALROSA which allowed 143 miners to be rescued quickly, and the way in which it rapidly put the rescue operation into place. Rescuers worked around the clock for more than three weeks facing incredible dangers and operating in conditions that are impossible for outsiders to comprehend. Unfortunately, a point was reached where it was simply not possible to continue. With great sadness, we had to accept that the trapped miners are unlikely to still be alive without food and water, in appallingly high levels of humidity and with a high content of hydrogen sulfide and salts in the mudflow."

Hope inevitably was in the hearts of all involved in the rescue operation – and in those of the many outsiders looking in. Their belief that the miners could be rescued may have been sustained by recorded accidents where miners were trapped underground for long periods but who survived. Among the best known examples is one that had billions of people around the world glued to their TV sets in 2010 when a mining accident in Chile saw a cave-in at the San José copper-gold mine. Incredibly, after 69 days the 33 workers trapped 700 meters underground were rescued.

If there is one thing that stands out about the terrible accident, it is actually to show how rare such occurrences are in the diamond mining industry. Periodically, there are incidents around the world where miners become trapped and rescued, as mentioned above, and unfortunately not a few instances of deaths.

These have typically happened in coal mining operations. In Pakistan earlier this month, five coal miners were killed. In Iran in May, 21 coal miners were killed trying to rescue trapped colleagues, while China has also experienced accidents resulting in the deaths of scores of miners. Even the United States has recorded fatalities among coal miners, almost a dozen killed in the first half of this year – which is more than in all of 2016.

The fact is that the diamond mining industry has an excellent safety record. The last such incident was when a father-of-three was killed driving inside the pit at the enormous Jwaneng mine in Botswana in July 2012.

As the rescue efforts in Russia testified, excellent safety records are only possible when mining companies insist on stringent safety procedures. In the nature of work that has a potential for danger, there will always be incidents caused by unforeseen events. This does not detract, however, from the work of all the diamond mining firms and their procedures and policies insisting that employees follow very strict guidelines in order to slash the risk of an accident down to extremely low levels.


Only registered users can add comments (Register, Login)