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Editorial comment

The end of the year is usually a time of reflection; a time to think back over the year and remember the highlights. However, for most, this year will hold few positives. The coronavirus impact has been far-reaching and even those who have not directly suffered from the disease have been affected. With the majority of governments around the world having imposed either full or partial lockdowns over the course of 2020, social distancing and online communication with loved ones has become ‘the new normal’.

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In dark times like these, it is particularly important to hold onto the bright spots when they occur. This year at Palladian Publications, not one, but three members of staff have welcomed new babies into their families, including Global Mining Review’s own Sales Manager, Ryan Freeman.

In other happy news, following the announcement of a friend’s engagement, the office conversation turned to the subject of diamonds; more specifically, onto the subject of mined vs laboratory-grown diamonds.

Manmade diamonds are chemically, physically and optically identical to a mined diamond, and are often marketed as a more humanitarian and environmentally friendly alternative. As a result, the market has seen a large increase in the purchase of the laboratory-grown product, particularly among Millennials and Generation Z. But the question remains: are these relatively new diamonds really a more sustainable alternative to traditional mined diamonds?

Naturally occurring diamonds are forged in the crushing pressure and immense heat of the Earth’s mantle, approximately 100 miles underground. Most were formed between 1 – 3 billion years ago, when the planet was much hotter than it is today. Laboratory diamonds are also created using immense pressure and heat, but inside of machines, rather than under the Earth’s crust. A significant amount of energy is therefore required to produce these diamonds, in turn generating a large carbon footprint. In a report commissioned by the Diamond Producers Association, it was suggested that three times the amount of greenhouse gases are produced when growing diamonds in a laboratory in comparison to those formed when mining natural diamonds.

The debate surrounding the difference between laboratory-grown and natural diamonds is complex, both in terms of social and environmental impacts, and has by no means been covered in detail within this comment. But the conversation itself is interesting. For me at least, there is a certain romanticism in owning something that took billions of years to form, particularly when being presented as a token of ever-lasting love.

2020 has been a hard year for many. But over the course of 2020, the mining industry has shown resilience, adapting to ‘the new normal’ with innovative technologies and digital solutions.

And a new year brings new hope. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what 2021 holds – particularly in light of the positive news being issued regarding the production of coronavirus vaccines. Finally, the whole Global Mining Review team would like to take a moment to wish all our readers, contributors, and advertisers well over this holiday period; and here’s hoping for a much brighter New Year.