Why Diamond Mining Becomes Less Sustainable Every Year
Sustainable (adj) - a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.
Despite the best efforts of the mining industry to expand diamond mining operations around the world, humanity has already passed ‘peak diamond,’ extracting 25% fewer carats in 2016 than a decade ago.
Over 6 billion carats of diamonds have been extracted from the Earth since antiquity, whereas only 1.2 billion carats of mineable diamonds are estimated to remain in the Earth today according to the public filings of the De Beers and the other large diamond mining companies.
Unfortunately, each marginal carat mined is more difficult to extract and more energy intensive than the last. Quite simply, all the easy to get diamonds have already been extracted.
Most new diamond production in the last 25 years has occurred in the extreme cold of the Canadian and Russian Arctic, where mining operations are much more carbon intensive than past mines in Africa, India, and Australia.
Three decades ago, the Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia yielded 7 or 8 carats of diamond per tonne of Earth. Today, yields have fallen to 3.5 carats per tonne and yields are predicted to fall to 2.3 carats per tonne in the years ahead before the mine is closed. Thus, the mine outputs fewer than half the diamonds it did three decades ago for a given amount of fossil fuel and explosives.
While diamonds are forever, diamond mines are not. During the 21st Century, commercial diamond mining will cease for one of two reasons:
- Miners will have extracted every single diamond out of every Kimberlite pipe on Earth
- Consumers will vote with their pocketbooks, demanding diamonds that do not cost the Earth, thus ending the financial viability of diamond extraction.
At Ada Diamonds, we hope the second option is the reason for the cessation of diamond mining.