In this issue

Issue 108 • September 2021

Welcome to the new edition of MINE Magazine.

Research from the University of Nottingham and Terra Motion showed that the Brumadinho dam collapse could have been predicted based on ground movements in the weeks prior to the disaster. Now, that research will have real-world application with Geospatial Insight launching a service to monitor ground movements in and around tailings dams to provide early warnings of potential structural failures. We find out more about the work and how it could improve mine safety.

 Petra Diamonds has had its reputation as an ethical miner shattered by a recent lawsuit alleging violence and human rights abuses at its Williamson mine in Tanzania by a security firm contracted to protect the area. The miner accepted responsibility and paid out over £4m in damages. It's a small victory for those affected by the abuses, but one that will do nothing to repair Petra’s reputation or address the root causes of this power dynamic, where a distant owner or operator is reliant on the good word of a local contractor to manage day-to-day operations at a mine. Does this lawsuit prove that, even with the best will in the world, ethical mining is all but impossible on a global scale?

Elsewhere, jewellery maker Pandora recently announced it would only use synthetic diamonds for its jewellery. DeBeers, the world’s largest diamond producer, has already said it will not affect its bottom line. But with synthetic diamond production set to suddenly gain significant R&D funds, can they threaten mining? Decades after the diamond industry was transformed by the most successful advertising campaign in history, will DeBeers start to lose its grip, or will its diamond hands hold on to a changed market? 

Callum Tyndall, editor