Ethical Mining

What makes a mine “ethical”?

Good safety standards

An ethical mine must have good safety standards in place to protect workers. Each country determines its own mine safety standards, depending on the size and purpose of the mine. Official standards may be publicly displayed, but information about specific mines is rarely available. The application of standards varies greatly. Studying local government, and its reputation for corruption, offers important clues about what is actually happening.

Fair wages

Accurate wage information is rarely available for specific mines. But it is possible to make deductions by studying the political and economic situation of the country where the mine is located. However, in some cases, mining jobs offer a higher daily wage than other options available to rural populations and unskilled workers.

Low environmental impact

All mines have a negative impact on the environment. So the question is to what extent. To answer this question, it is essential to know where the mine is located, how big it is, and what its main purpose is. Based on these factors, it is possible to draw reasonable conclusions about the likely environmental impact. Unfortunately, Big Mining lobbyists and most mine owners are not financially motivated to care about the environment.

Three types of mining

Artisanal mines

Artisanal mines are the smallest and least sophisticated mining operations. They involve an individual or small group of miners using hand tools to extract gemstones and minerals. Many artisanal miners work part-time or seasonally. These tiny mines can be legal or illegal.

Advantage : Artisanal miners have the lowest environmental impact. They also generally pose fewer safety risks than large mining operations.

Concern : In developing countries, artisanal miners may work barefoot and without any safety equipment. Artisanal miners are often poorly informed about their raw stock and can be exploited by unscrupulous buyers.

Small-scale mining

Small-scale mines are mid-range mines, both in size and technology. They are a small business that employs workers all year round. These mines can be above ground or underground, and are generally legal operations.

Advantage : Small mines often take into account miner safety, wages and environmental impact. Information may be available on specific mines, making it easier to determine how ethically they are managed.

Concern : Standards vary widely. When mine-specific information is not available, some conclusions can be drawn by studying government regulations and enforcement practices.

Industrial mining

Industrial mines are the largest and most high-tech operations. They are owned by “Big Mining” mega-corporations. Mines can be above ground or underground. Some of the largest open-cast mines can be seen from space.

Advantage : Many healing crystals are byproducts of industrial-scale mining. These crystals do not have enough monetary value to be mined for themselves.

Concern : Relatively few industrial mines are truly environmentally friendly. Although most industrial mines treat workers well, there are disturbing reports of child slave labor at other operations.

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