Marine Diamond Mining in Southern Africa: The Change Needed Now
The diamond industry is traditionally known for mining the precious gems from underneath the Earth’s soil surface, reaching levels at almost 1000 kilometers deep. In addition to this very invasive process, the industry has created a marine diamond mining sector in search of diamonds located below the ocean floor. This category of mining can be traced back to South Africa and Namibia, and the jewels within their waters are considered to be among the most sought-after diamonds in the world. Their rarity and worth come from their existence, with most diamonds being destroyed while on their journey to the sea from their source. Only the highest quality of diamonds survive. But, the luxury and wealth these gems convey is not a true reflection of the countries they are born within. Towns and villages responsible for mining the diamonds face harsher realities: high unemployment, no job creation, no skills development, or any other form of mining benefits for the community. Workers can face additional problems such as hazardous working conditions, exploitation of human rights, and possible child labour practices.
In order for economic potential and restoration of morality, enforcement of compliance to the Mining Charter and Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) is needed. The act, which was put in place to help combat issues like poverty, inequality, and unemployment in Southern Africa, seems like the most reasonable and obvious solution that these countries need. So why is there a clear lack of compliance within these countries if the MPRDA could make drastic improvements on a socio-economic level for so many people? Two reasons: corporate culture of monopolistic greed, along with political ‘insiderism’. As these governments and corporations prove their immoral conscience, the Mining Charter and MPRDA emphasize the importance sustainability within the transformation of the mining sector through equitable access to mineral resources.
As the King III Code of Conduct quotes, “Sustainability is the primary moral and economic imperative of the 21st century. It is one of the most important sources of both opportunities and risks for business. Sustainability considerations are rooted in the South African Constitution which is the basic social contract that South Africans have entered into.” Without equitable access to these resources, the South African mining industry will fail to transform, and in turn, sustainability remains unachieved.