Working in the crystal biz, I’ve been presented with ethics related questions regarding crystals & being a both a student & teacher of geology, I’ve had the opportunity to ask & explore the topic deeply.
I take this very seriously so this will be more of a serious & passionate post, Sweet Pea.
For years I’ve found myself having to defend mineral collecting against environmental activists (of which I consider myself to be one)…some of whom claim that crystal & mineral collecting is causing major destruction to our planet while also related to slavery + poor living conditions .
I think there may be some confusion between mineral & crystal collecting VS. mining for precious gems (diamonds, rubies, emeralds) & industrial ore (coal, aluminum, tin, etc). That stuff is not what I’m speaking of when we speak of mineral & crystal collecting AKA “specimen mining”.
SIDE NOTE: We all know about Blood or Conflict Diamonds, but you do not have to add to the turmoil. you can choose to purchase Ethical Diamonds. Here’s a great article on how to go about doing that.
In my extensive research I’ve found that specimen mining usually has little or no DIRECT impact on our planet.
Often times, specimens are collected as a by-product to ore mining where mines have been dug to get at coal, copper, aluminum, gold, etc. for other items our society seems to have no problem with. In addition, some of what is sold on the market are simply recycled specimens from estate sales. The ULTIMATE in recycling!
There is a HUGE difference here.
So, now let’s educate. This is what goes on in a specimen mine:
- This is what mining for quartz looks like at Ron Coleman’s mine in Arkansas
- Mining for quartz in Georgia
- Larger Quartz operation in Brazil
- Mining for aquamarine & emerald in Mexico
- Aquamarine in Africa
- Digging for amethyst in Kuridala Queensland, Australia
- Digging for Topaz in Utah
- Mining for quartz in Brazil
Now, keep in mind that most serious mineral collectors choose to abide by certain mineral collecting ethical guidelines (yep, open ’em up & check them out!)…but of course, are not required to & are often not regulated. However certain actions ARE illegal & can result in prosecution if ignored…depending on the country they’re mining in.
Here I am specimen mining for myself in Hot Springs, Arkansas on private land. You can read more about that wonderful experience here…
Yes, some specimen mining methods cause some scarring & not all specimen mining is as kind to the Earth as this. Sometimes explosives are used to crack a stubborn rock. However, we’re not talking about massive strip mining & it’s usually just meters of rock & not very deep. Specimen mining really doesn’t have much of an impact on the environment, but commercial mining for ore is a totally different story.
Then there’s the subjective question of “what is damage?” Of course, there’ll be a certain amount of digging or rock breaking. Keep in mind, Mama Nature would do the same thing through ice wedging & erosion. Or given enough time, much more destructive Mama Earth forces….more on that below.
The Real Culprit
Industrial ore mining & mining for precious gems does require heavy blasting, strip mining & sometimes leads to poor living or working conditions. Slavery comes into play most definitely with conflict minerals. What the heck are conflict minerals?
THIS IS SOMETHING I IMPLORE YOU TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON & THEN PLEASE PLEDGE TO SHARE THIS WITH 3 PEOPLE. (If you came to this post, you came here for a reason & you have been given a mission). PLEASE WATCH & READ ON:
If you’re concerned about human conditions in relation to the mining of minerals then the very minerals used in our computers & cell phones are the ones we need to concern ourselves with:
Find out what minerals are in your smart phone right here in this pdf.
I do try to choose a tech company that makes a conscious effort to minimize its use of conflict minerals. Are your electronics conflict free? The device you’re using to read this right now? None are 100%. Please check yours here now & if they’re not please email your tech company directly from the site to make your voice heard! This is so easy to do, doesn’t cost you a dime & is a great way for us to initiate change!
Then make sure you vote with your $ next time you need to purchase a computer or cell phone.
Vote with the $$!!
What about farming & urbanization? I feel those are much bigger disturbances to our planet…however less unavoidable.
Yes, child labor & poor work conditions may be a problem in certain countries where there’s less regulation due to weak or corrupt governments. And sometimes there is no way for us to know who exactly mined a crystal…or picked our food for that matter! Unless we were there or did it ourselves. Yep, that is a problem sometimes, but it’s true for anything.
War & rape going on over specimen crystal mining? No.
For our ipads & cell phones? Yes!!!
We don’t like to hear that do we? But we can change this. Please let these tech companies know that this is not OK.
Here’s a recent interview I did with Joanna DeVoe on the topic. I thank her for doing this & for spurring me on to finally finish this blog post! As you’ll see…I’m really passionate about this!
Now, not all ore mining companies are BAD.
Some do make a good effort to generate sustainable employment for the communities they operate in as well are required to meet strict requirements to back fill & reclaim the land they’ve destroyed….but, again…this is industrial ore mines…not specimen mining. Sometimes, in a war-torn & weary area, specimen mining is one of the only legit income opportunities the people there can hope for.
Lesson on The Rock Cycle
Oooo! Wait, I get to teach science again?!
OK, so we have THE ROCK CYCLE.
Guess what happens to crystal specimens that aren’t collected? Mother Earth recycles them.
Of course, I’m not saying “grab all you can b/c they’ll all be destroyed if you don’t”, but I do feel that we can be free to work with these very special crystal healing tools. They’ll eventually go back to the Mama Earth’s kitchen & more will be created no matter how powerful we think we are.
SPARKLY RESOURCE: Here’s a crystal seller who claims to only provide ethically hand mined crystals, keeping in mind how the crystals are sourced, handled, stored & shipped. I haven’t shopped with this company myself, but I like what they stand for. So please do your due diligence & check them out for yourself if you’d like & if you know of any other crystal sellers who are passionate about keeping crystal mining ethical please post in the comments below!
So, if this is a concern of yours…assuming it is since you landed here…please get involved. Inform others about Conflict Minerals. Email your tech companies & tell them what you think. Is your techy stuff as conflict free as you can make it? Do you agree or disagree with me? I’m always open to hearing other sides…as long as we keep it mature & respectful. I’d love to hear about your efforts or what you think!!