Environmental Impact of Natural Diamonds
Natural diamonds are formed deep inside the Earth under high temperatures and tremendous pressures. Diamond-bearing rock (kimberlite or lamproite) is carried to the Earth's surface through volcanic activity that created so called 'kimberlite pipes'. Each year, over 150 million carats of diamonds are extracted from the Earth through mining. To do so, enormous amounts of soil need to be removed and processed.
Over 670 million carats have been extracted from the Argyle Diamond Mine,
with nearly 3 billion tons of ore removed.
Kimberlite pipes are subject to natural erosion. Some diamond deposits are being washed out and end up in river beds or on the ocean's floor near mouths of a river, making up so called alluvial deposits. The most common alluvial mining occurs along southwest Africa. It involves extensive digging and sifting through mud, sand and gravel. Again, as with the case in open pit mining, huge amounts of gravel are being moved from riverbeds and the ocean's floor to a processing facility.Both types of diamond mining involve large scale earth-moving operations and subsequent ore processing. Environmental impact of that is substantial: high level of energy consumption, mainly (and in some instances completely, like the Diavik mine in Canada) associated with burning of fossil fuels for power generation and moving equipment; liquid and solid wastes; air pollution; enormous use of water; impact on natural habitats and ecosystems, especially fragile ones like tundra and permafrost areas in Northern Canada and Russia or tropical forests in equatorial Africa.
Environmental Impact of Lab-grown Diamonds
Contrary to mining, no water or air pollution results from the production of laboratory created diamonds. There are no devastated ecosystems associated with it, nor do we use substantial amounts of water or hazardous chemicals or any other environmentally dangerous substances or processes. In fact, the only resource we consume is a modest amount of electricity, which primarily comes from renewable sources.