Hold De Beers Accountable

 


Title Hold De Beers Accountable
Director(s) African Renaissance
Date released   (year) 2011
Production   company African Renaissance
Length 3   MINS
Location Cape,   South Africa
Keywords/tags Mining, community, natural resources, diamonds
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s6dURw_wTU
Synopsis Short   advocacy film documenting community issues in the Western Cape, around the   impacts of diamond mining undertaken by De Beers.
Reviews/discussion “Halt the sale of De   Beers operations until they fix our area”, says Cape West Coast   community.

The imminent sale of De Beers’ diamond mining operations on the Cape West   Coast must be halted until full disclosure and proper consultation with all   affected parties has taken place, says the community of Hondeklipbaai.

The department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is expected to make a decision on   the approval of the amended environmental management programme, and the   transfer of mining rights to Tranx Hex, within weeks. The community launched   an awareness campaign this week, to urge DMR to postpone their decision.

Speaking at a media briefing in Cape Town, Hondeklipbaai community leader   David Markus said the sale cannot be allowed to continue until they were   assured that the companies would honour their obligations to rehabilitate the   area.

“We make an urgent call on the DMR to hold these companies to account   and to not forget the communities that are directly affected. Too often big   mining companies exploit the country’s natural resources without undoing the   damage they cause”, said Markus.

He was speaking at the launch of two documentary videos in which the direct   damage to the Hondeklipbaai area can be seen. The community is on the West   Coast of South Africa, approximately 300 kms outside Cape Town.

Markus was supported by the Bench Mark Foundation at the briefing. Bench Mark   Foundation earlier this year asked De Beers Consolidated Mines to make   substantial revisions to the Environmental Management Programme Report which   will become the only legal tool to prevent a lasting negative legacy from   diamond mining in Namaqualand.

“The area in Hondeklipbaai is rich in biodiversity, with some species of   plants and animals that are not see anywhere else in the world.

“This area must be protected and conserved, and we’re not convinced that   the current plans will not leave the area exposed to more risks. Their budget   for this kind of repair work is wholly inadequate, and it is the people of   Hondeklipbaai that will end up paying for it, for generations to come,”   said Markus.

Source:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s6dURw_wTU

From Andreas Spath, October 14, 2011:

‘For   many people, diamonds have lost much of their sparkle in recent years. The   knowledge that so-called blood or conflict diamonds have been used to finance   some of Africa’s most murderous wars and civil conflicts has made it   difficult to look at the gems as objects of beauty with which to decorate our   bodies.

The   appalling working conditions and human rights abuses associated with some   diamond mining operations don’t make matters any easier either. But even in   situations where diamonds are mined legally by internationally respected,   supposedly law-abiding companies, the impact on local communities and the   environment can be devastating. De Beers’ Namaqualand Mines on the West   Coast of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province are a good example of this.

De   Beers started mining diamonds in this area in 1927. Gem quality stones are   found here in “alluvial” and “placer” deposits — former gravel beaches and   stream channels where the diamonds were dropped by rivers that scoured them   from kimberlite pipes located hundreds of kilometers inland and carried them   towards the sea millennia ago.

By the   end of the 20th century, De Beers had extracted some 31 million carats of   diamonds from its Namaqualand Mines located along a 150 kilometer stretch of   coastline by strip mining parts of the land to a depth of about 40 meters.   With profitability falling and the downturn of the global economy, operations   were suspended in 2010 and in May of this year De Beers announced the sale of   the mines to a much smaller local diamond mining company called Trans Hex.

Clearly   De Beers has made a lot of money during their more than 80 years of   excavating diamonds here, but the legacy they have left for local communities   is one of crushing poverty and a devastated landscape. In this short video   clip from Green Renaissance, Dawid Markus, a community   leader in the small town of Hondeklipbaai, outlines their struggles:

  Geographically isolated, Hondeklipbaai has around   1,000 inhabitants and a crippling unemployment rate of 80%. In the past, many   families relied very heavily on work at the mines, but nowadays there are   precious few job opportunities of any kind left.

The   community has lodged an official claim for the land on which the mines were   established, which they consider to be their ancestral heritage. They’ve   objected to the sale of the mines, saying there can be no question of   transferring ownership when there is an existing dispute over whose land it   is in the first place.

De   Beers’ operations have left the land in an appalling condition. Mining   activities have left an area the size of approximately 2,000 football fields   disturbed and un-rehabilitated. Although this region is very arid, it forms   part of the Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot, one of 42 areas that are   internationally recognized for their rich variety in flora and fauna.

This is   a very special and fragile habitat that is home to a large number of endemic   plant species which occur nowhere else on the planet and 45 of which are   threatened with extinction as a result of the mining. It is also the site of   one of the world’s largest arid estuarine systems.

Under   South African law, once a mine is closed down, companies are obliged to   provide the financial and other resources to ensure that disturbed areas are   returned to a state that is equivalent to or better than it was before the   mining started. They are also required to contribute to the social security   and development of the communities they leave behind once they close shop,   ensuring that alternative land uses are found and employment opportunities   are created.

Local   inhabitants like Dawid Markus, together with labor unions and environmental   organizations like Conservation South Africa, the Bench Marks Foundation and the Centre for Environmental   Rights have raised grave concerns that De Beers is attempting to avoid   these legal obligations by selling off the mines to Trans Hex. They question   Trans Hex’s financial and technical capacity to fulfill these obligations and   point out that Trans Hex has a very poor record when it comes to   environmental rehabilitation of their existing mines in the area.

It’s   imperative that De Beers, a hugely profitable international corporation, is   held to account for the environmental damage it has wrought in this area and   that they return it to a sustainable ecological condition as is their   obligation by law.’

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/diamond-mining-leaves-people-and-land-devastated.html#ixzz2POVJwCaK

Links to   other resources Diamond Empire film: https://ejoltdocumentaries.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/the-diamond-empire/

 

Madihlaba, T. The Fox in the Henhouse: the environmental   impact of diamond mining on communities in South Africa. In McDonald, D.   (ed.) Environmental Justice in South Africa, University of Cape   Town Press, CT, pp.156-167

 

Diamond Mining and the Environment Factsheet: http://www.diamondfacts.org/pdfs/media/media_resources/fact_sheets/Diamond_Mining_Environment_Fact_Sheet.pdf

 

The Greener Diamond: http://thegreenerdiamond.org/pages/about-conflict-diamonds/impact-on-the-environment.php

Blood diamond” regulation system broken   – but where to look for blame? By Khadija Sharife and Nick Meynen, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11968

The Diamond Empire

Title The Diamond Empire
Director(s) Gavin MacFadyen
Date   released (year) 1994
Production   company Laurie Flynn
Length 102 mins
Location Africa
Keywords/tags Diamonds, colonialism, mining, natural   resources
Link to   film http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=260
Synopsis How an advertising slogan invented by Madison Avenue executives in 1948   has come to define our most intimate rituals and ideals around courtship and   marriage is the subject of this devastating documentary. THE DIAMOND EMPIRE,   which sent shockwaves through the world diamond industry when it first   appeared, systematically takes apart the myth that “diamonds are   forever,” exposing how one white South African family, through a process   of monopoly and fantasy, managed to exert control over the global flow of   diamonds and shape the very way we think about romance and love is an   achievement all the more stunning given that diamonds are in fact neither a   scarce nor indestructible commodity. Zeroing in on how “the diamond   empire” managed to convert something valueless into one of the most   coveted commodities in history, the film provides a riveting look at how   marketing and consumer culture not only influence global trade and economics,   but also burrow down into the very core of our identities. Most of the major   diamond producers belong to, or have cooperated with, the De Beers led   marketing cartel, formed to maintain the price of diamonds at a high level.   De Beers, under Harry Oppenheimer’s leadership, maintained its dominant   position in the industry by using its numerous worldwide companies to buy up   new sources of diamonds and to control distribution of industrial diamonds   and production of synthetic ones. In the last decades of the 20th cent.,   however, De Beers’ hold over the unpolished diamond market decreased, and in   2000 the company announced it would end to its policy of controlling diamond   prices through hoarding and shift its focus to increasing sales.

Source: http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=260

Reviews/discussion “In all my years of teaching,   this is the single most important video I have ever shown. No film has proven   as successful in showing students how a major part of their identities has   been constructed by a corporate, commercial culture. This movie changes the   way we see the world.”
– Sut Jhally | Department of Communications | UMass AmherstSource: http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=136#film-praise
Links to   other resources
Madihlaba, T.   The Fox in the Henhouse: the environmental impact of diamond mining on   communities in South Africa. In McDonald, D. (ed.) Environmental Justice in South Africa,   University of Cape Town Press, CT, pp.156-167Diamond Mining and the Environment Factsheet: http://www.diamondfacts.org/pdfs/media/media_resources/fact_sheets/Diamond_Mining_Environment_Fact_Sheet.pdf

The Greener Diamond: http://thegreenerdiamond.org/pages/about-conflict-diamonds/impact-on-the-environment.php

Zimbabwe diamond circuit: http://100r.org/2013/02/disappearing-diamonds/

Blood diamond” regulation system broken   – but where to look for blame? By Khadija Sharife and Nick Meynen, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11968

 

Dirty Diamonds

 

Title Dirty Diamonds – Angola
Director(s) Journeymanpictures
Date released (year) 1996
Production company Journeymanpictures
Length 6 mins
Location Angola
Keywords/tags Diamonds, Angola, mining,   natural resources
Link to film
Synopsis

 

 

 

Angola boasts the most dangerous and illegal diamond mines in the world.

From an aerial view, hundreds of men work like black ants on the crater   ridden landscape. In small groups, bare chested, knee deep in murky water   they seive gravel for hours until they spot the glitter of one tiny diamond.   In town, we interview an illegal trader who compares diamond dealing to the   blood diamond trade in a warzone. He takes out a small paper package from his   trouser leg and slowly unwraps a cluster of uncut jewels. He carries them to   bribe his way out of any difficult situations. The De Beers diamond cartel is   keen to stop the illegal diamond trade. A spokesman maintains that most of   Angola’s diamonds are smuggled out the country and are therefore denied to   the people of Angola. “We would like to develop a first class diamond   field and build a proper mining operation. In this way the country can be   further developed.” Local mining companies depend on private security   firms to guarantee their safety. While filming, bandits with grenade   launchers and machine guns take our reporter by surprise. After much   bargaining, she is finally allowed to leave the area

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw23pTjKf-I&feature=related)

Reviews/discussion Since the Portugese left   Angola in 1975, there’s been no peace in the country. The civil war between   government troops and UNITA has left the country devastated. UNITA didn’t   recognise the result of the elections in 1992 – and so the conflict goes on.   Neither side find it difficult to buy weapons. They’re paid for in diamonds –   the wealth of Angola. The country could be one of the most prosperous in   Africa. It owns the most precious gem, but everyone is helping themselves to   this fortune.The government loses at least 30 million US dollars a month   through the illegal diamond trade. The diamond diggers are protected   sometimes by the army or police – everyone wants to cream something off this   profitable trade. Marion Mayer-Hodahl visits a dangerous illegal diamond   digging area.

Source: http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=9856&tmpl=transcript

Links to other resources Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines: “Blood   Diamond: Doublethink and Deception Over Those Worthless Little Rocks of   Desire,” Z Magazine, June and July 2007, and Blood Diamonds at <http://www.allthingspass.com/journalism.php?catid=48 >.

Rafael Marques, Rinsing the Blood from   Angola’s Diamonds, Oxford University Africa Society, January 26, 2007.

Blood Diamonds

Title Blood Diamonds

 

Director(s) Bill Brummel Productions

 

Date released (year) 2011
Production company Bill Brummel Productions

 

Length 45mins
Location Sierra Lione, Angola, DRC
Keywords/tags Mining, natural resources,   civil war, trade
Link to film
http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=120
Synopsis Diamonds are symbols of   wealth, elegance and love around the world. But in several African nations,   they have been a means to power, a reason to terrorize millions of innocent   civilians, and may have even helped finance some of the world’s most brutal   terrorists. The human cost of the illicit global diamond trade is examined in   the provocative documentary “Blood Diamonds” from the History   Channel.

http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=120

Reviews/discussion The History Channel makes   a well made film explaining the bloody history of the diamond trade and its   accompanying wars while doing so in a way that is powerful yet filled with   facts.

Isn’t   often that television can provide more complete coverage of a story than the   written word, but this is a prime example. Even after seeing “Blood   Diamond” the movie, you wouldn’t have the context of this story until   seeing this documentary. It chronicles the whole history of the collapse of   Sierra Leone over decades, brought about by the diamond resource there. Because   atrocities played a major role (and are still being adjudicated), there are   many graphic images too strong for kids.

The show will leave you not only with some moral outrage about the industry   in general; it also exposes the specter of Al Queda’s involvement in the   trade. It arms you with questions you can pose about your own purchases to   avoid contributing to further instability and corruption in those countries.   It’s a great pleasure to hear Jeffrey Wright’s narration, but frustrating   because he’s not seen much more often.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0913360/reviews

 

Links to other resources Stop Blood Diamonds

More information on the Situation   in Sierra Leone