Lucapa to become a niche diamond company, says Wetherall

Lucapa Diamond believes that it will become the only company in the world with multiple diamond mining operations whose average diamond value is in excess of $1,000 per carat, once the Mothae mine is commissioned this year. Company chief executive and...

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Zimnisky: Diamonds lack fungibility to be a major investment product

Physical diamonds will never be a viable widespread investment product simply because they inherently lack fungibility, meaning they are all unique, according to Paul Zimnisky, an independent diamond industry analyst and consultant, who is based in New...

12 february 2018

Julien-Vincent Brunie: "Being surrounded by beauty and art is a privilege!"

This last December, shortly before Christmas, the Auction House of Christie's arranged a private display of jewelry in Moscow. The correspondent of Rough & Polished, who had an opportunity to visit this event, was able to admire a luxurious collection...

05 february 2018

Ali Pastorini: We would like meeting Mujeres Brillantes 2018 to be held in Russia

Ali Pastorini is the co-owner of DEL LIMA JEWERLY and President of Mujeres Brillantes, an association which brings together approximately 500 women working in the gold and diamond trading sector, mainly from Latin America, as well as from Turkey, Spain...

29 january 2018

Diamond Exchanges promote healthy development of the diamond industry, besides safe and basic infrastructures for diamond trade

Prior to joining the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange, Liang Weizhang served as a civil servant of Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau as the director of the Kimberley Process Office. He participated in the KP Review missions to South Africa...

22 january 2018

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.


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