Vallabhbhai Shamjibhai Patel tells about the ongoing construction of the Surat Diamond Bourse

The under-construction Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) is India's second diamond trading hub based at Surat, Gujarat, spread across 35.54 acres with more than 4,000 offices for national & international traders. On the onset, the project which...

18 june 2018

The strategy of regulating the Russian jewellery industry

At the General Meeting of the Russian Jewellers Guild Association held in April, two principally important documents were adopted: The Strategy of Regulating the Jewellery Industry of Russia and The Charter of a Good Faith Taxpayer. Besides, the issues...

13 june 2018

Our first priority is to better understand artisanal and small-scale mining - Elodie Daguzan

The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), the organization dealing with the traditional diamond mining, recently announced the appointment of Élodie Daguzan as its first Goodwill Ambassador. Ms. Daguzan, who currently works as head of communication...

04 june 2018

Zimnisky on De Beers’ Lightbox: It’s a strategic, bold move that will benefit the entire natural diamond industry

De Beers shocked all and sundry end of May when it announced the launch of a new company called Lightbox Jewelry, which will market a new brand of laboratory-grown diamond jewellery in September. This effectively meant that the group had departed from...

01 june 2018

Tracking the provenance and lifecycle of a product is a natural and necessary evolution in our industry

A senior executive with a demonstrated history of working globally at management and board levels, Marcus ter Haar has been the Managing Director at Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), Botswana for about 10 months now, prior to which he held the...

28 may 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.


Only registered users can add comments (Register, Login)