Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Diamond Mining of Angola

Angola, the world's fourth-largest diamond producing country by value and sixth by volume, could regain record production levels enjoyed before 2002 thanks to its new mining law and higher quality diamonds, says a new study.
Angola’s diamond industry, which began a century ago under Portuguese colonial rule, is successfully emerging from a long period of difficulty as a result of a civil war that ended in 2002.

The country’s production volume has remained relatively stable at 8 million carats per year since 2006.
Over the last five years, while production remained fairly steady at the Catoca mine – the world’s fourth largest diamond mine in which Russia’s Alrosa is a joint venture partner – the impact of the financial crisis slowed production across the country and prompted international mining companies to abandon their operations. That trend is now starting to reverse.

Angola is also known for its significant gold and oil reserves.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon

A combination of field surveys, airborne mapping, and high-resolution satellite imaging have determined that small clandestine operations now make up more than half of all gold mining activities in the Western Amazonian forests of Peru.
The Carnegie Institution for Science and Peru’s Ministerio del Ambiente in Lima assessed road- and river-based gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon from 1999 to 2012. During this period, the geographic extent of gold mining increased 400%. In the year 2008, the average annual rate of forest loss as a result of gold mining tripled.

Madre de Dios now supplies more than 70% of Peru’s gold production; however, mining activities remain mostly unpermitted by the government.

The authors discovered hundreds of new small mines in the foothills in the headwater region of the Colorado, Inambari, and Malinowski Rivers.
Their discovery was confirmed by air in July 2011 and again in September 2013.

“Critically, as of 2012, small mining operations constituted 51% of the total mining activity throughout the region,” the authors observed. “Our results reveal far more forest damage than has been reported in the past, both in terms of the current area affected and the rate of clearing over time,”
While the total land loss in Madre de Dios appears small compared to other tropical regions undergoing deforestation, the study emphasized that “Madre de Dios is world-renowned for its unusually high biological diversity."


Friday, 15 November 2013

The Marange diamond fields, Zimbabwe

The "Marange" is the name of a vast diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe. It is about the size of the German capital Berlin and in its depths huge deposits of diamonds lie waiting to be discovered. Many experts believe it to be the largest diamond field in the world. This year alone, the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) expects to extract diamonds weighing some 17 million carats.

In terms of carats produced, the Marange field is the largest diamond producing project in the world.
Now Zimbabwe can again sell its precious stones to buyers in Europe. In September the European Union (EU) lifted sanctions imposed on the ZMDC for its alleged involvement in acts contrary to to democracy in the southern African nation.

The embargo on Zimbabwe's national mining corporation was imposed by the EU in the wake of brutal attacks by security forces against members of the opposition after the 2008 presidential election.
Five years later, the EU's foreign ministers have now said the embargo can be lifted – even though election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expressed severe doubts about the credibility of parliamentary elections held in Zimbabwe in July this year.
The EU has also spoken of democratic deficits in Zimbabwe but the bloc's foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann says there have also been some small improvements.

The EU wants to encourage Zimbabwe to undertake economic reforms so that the population as a whole also benefits from the trade in diamonds. So far, ordinary Zimbabweans have seen little of the revenue. The country's economy is in a poor state and many people do not have enough to eat. The UN World Food Program estimates that 2.2 million Zimbabweans will rely on international food aid in the coming months.