Mererani’s Tanzanite

Tanzanite is an impressive violet-blue gem stone that occurs is only one place; Mererani, near Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania, the country after which it is named.

Increasingly popular with jewellers and shopping channels, Tanzanite has had a poor ethical reputation – with a history of exploitation, child labour, inadequate safety standards, accidents, brutalisation, poverty wages and excess profiteering by foreign companies. Hundreds of miners have died in recent years in a series of mine collapses and floods. The short film Gem Slaves documented the appalling conditions and use of child miners in 2006.

In a recent effort to improve its image and the ethical standards of the industry the Tanzanite One corporation, which owns some of the largest mines, set-up the Tanzanite Foundation, which aims to certify ethical Tanzanite stones. As a result conditions in many of the mines have undoubtedly improved, but a lack of openness makes it impossible to be sure just how ethical tanzanite mining now is.

As Greg Valerio, jeweler, ethical activist and founder of CRED Jewellery points out: “There is no way to evaluate a companies claim to be ethical without openness”.

If  you’re considering buying tanzanite, or any other gemstone jewellery, it might be a good idea to check it’s origin and ethical credentials.

Knowing it’s been produced without exploitation will probably make it look even better.


Photo via Wikicommons

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Mountaintop Removal

All forms of mining give rise to a variety of environmental concerns, but so-called mountain top removal coal mining in the American Appalachian Mountains is more damaging than most. The practice involves explosive removal of entire mountain tops in order to expose the coal, the resulting rock being placed in nearby valleys, often blocking streams. After the coal has been removed the spoil is then typically replaced to form a ‘new’ mountain.

The practice has generated a lot of criticism and protest from local people and environmental groups, with widespread allegations of pollution, habitat destruction, loss of amenity, and few benefits for the local communities affected.


Photo by iLoveMountains via Flickr

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