Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond

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by Raul Sapora

From a scientific perspective, a synthetic diamond has the same chemical composition, the same crystal structure, the same optical and physical properties of a natural diamond. As synthetic diamonds are conceptually identical to natural diamonds, they need to be analyzed and spotted by a gemological laboratory. Synthetic diamond screening is nowadays a major concern of the Jewelry Industry.

Unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned, Ada Diamonds[i], a synthetic diamond distributor, after discovering a few natural diamonds mixed in a synthetic diamonds melee lot, has implemented enhanced screening procedures to further inspect all parcels of melee diamonds to ensure that all diamonds sold are in fact synthetic, not mined and therefore not illicit mined diamonds. Despite it is based on the same principle (synthetic vs natural diamond screening), a whole new and extremely dangerous variable has been imported into the Diamond Trade: protecting synthetic from natural. I believe most of you who read this will smile at this – I did too at a first glance – but it is also easy to realize that a new powerful weapon has been forged and consigned to marketing experts, and if the synthetic diamond industry will have consumers perceive that synthetic diamonds are a better alternative, people will buy them.

The situation is becoming more and more complex. Retailers are in a constant state of great distress: they are uncertain whether they should sell synthetic diamonds or not. On the other end, mining companies are addressing the problem with considerable delay and most probably caught inside the conceptual circle of the same marketing campaign which had decreed their triumph in the past. When Martin Rapaport in his world renowned educated reprimand[ii] to Leonardo di Caprio says that ‘false claims and misleading marketing surrounding the sale of synthetics is having an impact’, I am afraid he forgets to say that diamond itself owes its success to the unrivalled advertising slogan created by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1948 ‘a Diamond is Forever’, and that claim is disingenuous anyway. De Beers was successful in making diamonds appear rarer than they are, by aggressively restricting the supply of diamonds on the market, and moreover nothing is going to be forever, not even diamonds.

I am a gemologist and Responsible Sourcing Auditor, and those who know me quite well are prepared to hear me pronounce the sentence: “The ethical nature of a gemstone has today as much to do with its social context and its environmental provenance as it has with its optical and chemical properties.” In fact, in my opinion, gemology without Responsible Sourcing is merely a scientific understanding of gemstones, and the world needs much more than this. Gemology, as a matter of fact, is evolving through ethics. Therefore, as a gemologist I have to protect truth, even if truth sometimes can be multifaceted.

Diamond Foundry, a Synthetic Diamond producer who raised a capital of over $100 million from 12 billionaires[iii], including Twitter founder Evan Williams and actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, was launched in late 2015, after two years of research and development.” A diamond is a diamond,” says Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry’s founder. “Scientifically it is a tetrahedral carbon allotrope, and it is the same thing whether mined or man-made.”

“Proud to invest in Diamond Foundry, a Company reducing human & environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds,” Leonardo di Caprio tweeted.

Apparently, the arguments embraced by synthetic (or lab grown as they like to say) diamonds manufacturers are mainly ethical: to some consumers they seem to be conflict free and socially responsible. That is because synthetic diamond marketers are touting their product to be “conflict-free”, which misleadingly associates all real diamonds with conflict diamonds.

Accusations of exploitation and inhumane working conditions in mines cast a dark shadow over the diamond industry. Mining is also said to be devastating to the environment, due to the amount of energy it requires, the potential for chemical leaks, and the harmful effects that removing large amounts of earth has on local ecosystems[iv]. Some of those arguments are highly deceptive: the world of diamonds, gemstones and jewellery is changing. The legislative landscape, consumer awareness of the problems in the jewellery supply chain and broader civil society groups demanding transparency and disclosure have impacted dramatically on this scenario: nowadays, thanks to Kimberley Process, Responsible Jewelry Council and other initiatives, just a very small fraction of diamonds production is being used to finance wars. Also, it is extremely important to understand that the diamond industry employs an estimated 10 million people around the world directly and indirectly, and also has become the almost entire economy of some specific, otherwise isolated locations, like Botswana and Northern Canada[v]. Another commonly repeated misconception is that diamond mining harms local ecosystems and wildlife. However, diamond mining is perhaps one of the least environmentally destructive forms of mining there is today. Diamond mining uses very few, if any, chemicals, and diamond mines leave a small footprint on local environments compared to other forms of mineral extraction. Most people are unaware of the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people in the countries around the world where diamonds are sourced. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.

A few facts:

·        An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.

·        Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.

·        An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

·        The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings.

·        Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.

·        The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

·        An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.

It is quite evident that synthetic diamonds pose a firm and serious threat to this huge network, while so much has been done and is being done to eradicate unethical implications from the complex jewelry world. As I said already, reactions have been slightly late and perhaps, at least in the early stage, not commensurate to the actual danger.

After almost one century and a half after diamond discovery in South Africa – happened in 1867, when fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs found the Eureka diamond on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Orange River – and after the end of the De Beers monopoly, seven of the world’s leading diamond companies (De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds, Gem Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto Diamonds), founded in May 2015, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA): its mission is ‘to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the diamond industry[vi].

DPA launched an advertising campaign called “Real is Rare,” that adopts a new verbiage on diamond marketing, in which the abracadabra claim “A Diamond is Forever” has been replaced by a narrative that is totally different from the past. The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced at the JCK, Las Vegas a few days ago that their 2017 marketing budget will total US$ 57 million. DPA’s Chairman Stephen Lussier commented: “The Board’s decision is a major turning point for the Diamond Producers Association and the diamond industry. All Board Members are aligned behind the goals and plans of the DPA, which is now fully equipped to fulfil its mission of communicating to next generation consumers about the timeless beauty and emotional value of diamonds. We look forward to working closely with the diamond and jewellery trade and with other industry organisations to build a stronger future for our sector” [vii].

The words pronounced from Lussier sound so far away from the place and time in which De Beers was the guardian of the trade and could steadily increase the price of diamonds, thus ensuring that diamonds were a good investment over time.

Is such a potentially huge advertising campaign enough to react to synthetic diamonds? In my opinion the necessary game changer in this dangerous situation are ethics and Responsible Sourcing practices. The only way is ethics, quoting Stacey Hailes’s speech at Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is of paramount importance for consumers to consider what the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, the Responsible Jewelry Council, the Signet Responsible Sourcing Program are among others doing. Although we are all working towards the full enforcement of these practices, they already had a significant impact on illicit trade in rough diamonds.

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[i] As reported in ‘Is This Lab-Grown Diamond Company Trolling the Trade?’ by Rob Bates, on JCKonline (June 1, 2017)

[ii] Rapaport, ‘Synthetic Diamond Scam’ April 2016

[iii] ‘Why Leonardo DiCaprio is backing man-made diamonds’ by Sophie Morlin-Yron, CNN money ( August 30, 2016)

[iv] ‘A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever’, by Chavie Lieber (June 14, 2016)

[v] ‘The History of Lab Grown Diamonds: Value Proposition’, by Ehud Arye Laniado (June 14, 2017)

[vi] Diamond Producers Association mission statement (www.diamondproducers.com)

[vii] DPA ups its Marketing Budget for 2017 – Allocates US$ 57 Million for the Purpose, TJM (June 6, 2017)

 

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ICA Joins Certification Initiative for Colored Gems Apr 12, 2013 7:38 AM By Jeff Miller

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Source: Rapaport

Author: Jeff Miller

RAPAPORT… The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) joined a United Nations (UN) initiative to assist in developing a mechanism to trace and certify gemstones from their country of origin. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in cooperation with the Vienna International Justice Institute and ICA hosted stakeholders in Turin on April 9 and 10 to review case studies and begin to establish governance for tracking and certifying colored gems.

UNICRI contended that the global colored stone industry, which accounts for $10 billion to $12 billion per year, is extremely fragmented with a high degree of opacity. The easy portability of these stones provide a lucrative stream of revenue for organized criminal groups, but with a certification scheme, the UNICRI would establish a tracking system for colored gems which would be tied back to improvements in environmental, social and security measures, according to the groups.

Participants included representatives of jewelry brands as well as government stakeholders from Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Brazil and South Africa detailed case studies related to their colored gemstone industry and precious metals supply chain.

ICA’s president, Wilson Yuen, addressed participants as an industry representative. “In the present context, tracking gemstones from their geographical origin with a realistic approach is an opportunity for the public sector, the gems and jewelry industry and the civil society to address together social, technical and environmental issues as well as illicit and criminal practices threatening our sector. This will undoubtedly enhance the transparency of the distribution chain and benefit all the stakeholders from mine to market and build up consumer confidence,” said Yuen.

Mining Directors Testify before Zimbabwe Parliament

The following article is published courtesy of: IDEX online

Author: Edon Ophir

 

The directors of various mining companies working in conjunction with the Zimbabwean government to develop the controversial Marange diamond field appeared Tuesday before the Zimbabwean Parliament’s Committee on Mines, the Voice of America reported Wednesday.

The government-controlled mining companies Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners took control of the Marange mining area after title holder African Consolidated Resources was driven out by President Robert Mugabe in 2006.

The companies’ directors, under the advice of Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, had previously refused to appear before Parliament for several weeks. Robert Mhlanga, representing Mbada, and Corgan Matanhire, representing Canadile, were questioned for more than four hours over Marange deals, such as the attempted auction of 300,000 carats of diamonds in January. The government had canceled the auction after it was discovered that the goods were not certified by the Kimberley Process.

The hearing was apparently very heated, according to VOA correspondents reporting from the Parliament, with legislators unhappy over the responses they received and warning the executives they would face charges if they lied.

Committee members also expressed concern that neither Mbada nor Canadile had experience in diamond mining, since Mbada is controlled by Reclamation Group, a South African scrap metal and iron dealer.

IMF to Battle Diamond and Gold Money Laundering in Africa

author: Edahn Golan
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) launched a technical assistance project to help countries where precious mineral exports account for a high share of GDP or total exports and formal financial systems are underdeveloped. The two stage $0.5 million project aims to close illicit trading loopholes in 16 sub-Sahara countries.

The IMF project will help the 16 countries that produce and deal in diamonds, gold, and precious minerals strengthen their defenses against money laundering, smuggling, and terrorist financing, the organization announced last week.

According to the IMF, Africa produces an estimated $19 billion in gold per year and $6 billion in diamonds. “But an unknown amount is laundered or siphoned each year for criminal purposes,” it warned.

“The trade in precious minerals has been linked to illicit financial flows, corruption, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and the financing of terrorism,” explained Emmanuel Mathias, an IMF senior financial sector expert.

“Better regulation and oversight of the precious minerals sector will not only help these countries combat these phenomena, but also boost revenues and improve their fiscal situation.”

The project is funded by $500,000 from the IMF’s anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) Topical Trust Fund (TTF) that was launched early last year as the first in a series of topical trust funds at the Fund.

Twelve countries are providing financial support for the TTF. Through this, a total of $31 million will be spent on improving AML/CFT systems around the globe over the next five years.

The technical assistance will be conducted in two stages. For the first stage, two awareness-raising regional workshops are being organized in Tunis, Tunisia, featuring representatives from the four relevant government departments (financial intelligence, customs, finance and mining) of each country. The first workshop was held on March 8–12 for eight French-speaking countries. The second is planned for June 14–18, with participants from eight English-speaking countries.

For the second stage, the project will help interested countries further develop their national strategies for improving AML/CFT controls related to precious minerals.

“By the third quarter of 2010, we expect countries to have prepared national strategies,” Mathias said. “We then expect a number of countries to engage in longer term technical assistance relationships with the IMF or with other relevant organizations.”

A number of countries have faced issues such as corruption, internal and regional conflicts, arms smuggling and other similar problems, he added.

“Such issues often prey on and are fueled by the unregulated trade in rough diamonds and gold,” Mathias said. “We have to consider that for some of these countries, diamonds or gold constitute their main economic resources. Improving the regulation and transparency of the precious minerals sector supports our core mandate of strengthening macroeconomic stability.”

Dealers in precious stones and metals are a relatively recent addition to the list of designated professions to be incorporated into a country’s AML/CFT regime, as designated by the IMF’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF standard calls for countries to require precious metals and stone dealers to identify the customer in any cash transaction equal to or above $/€15,000. In addition, dealers should be prohibited from completing a transaction if they are unable to identify and verify the client’s identity. They have to maintain records on transactions for at least five years, and suspicious transactions should be reported to the national financial intelligence unit.

The primary objective of implementing an AML/CFT framework is to detect and deter the proceeds of predicate crimes such as fraud, drug trafficking, arms smuggling or corruption.

“The lack of transparency of transactions in the precious metals and stones sector has been identified as a major obstacle to tax collection,” said Matthew Byrne, an IMF Senior Counsel. “The implementation of the FATF standard enhances the transparency of transactions and should be beneficial to the general supervision of dealers in precious stones and metals, including for tax audit.”

Courtesy of IDEX

Call to Lift Ivory Sales Ban Threatens African Elephants

Author: Bryan Walsh
Courtesy of: Time

Zambia and Tanzania are calling on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to downgrade the conservation status of elephants and allow ivory trade.

They were called the ivory wars. In the 1980s, at least 700,000 elephants, and possibly as many as 1 million, were slaughtered throughout Africa, killed by hunters and poachers for their ivory tusks, which would be made into jewelry. The substance was so valuable it was known as “white gold,” and international organized-crime arose around the trade, adding human carnage to the animal toll. Poachers would often kill baby elephants, even though they possessed tiny tusks, in order to draw out grieving mothers who would be murdered in turn. “The slaughter of elephants on the ground in Africa was just terrible,” says Paul Todd, program manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).The ivory wars continued until 1989, when countries at the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to ban all trade in elephant ivory. With trade choked off, demand for ivory plummeted; African governments, with Western aid, cracked down on remaining poachers. Elephant populations in Africa began to rebound slowly.But today the African elephant stands on a precipice once again. The nations of Tanzania and Zambia are petitioning CITES, which begins a major meeting in Doha on March 13, to “downlist” the conservation status of elephants so that they can sell stockpiled ivory on the open market — ivory they say comes from elephants that have died naturally or was seized from illegal poachers. But conservationists argue that over the past decade illegal poaching has risen steadily, and if the elephant is downlisted in some African nations it could have a devastating impact for the species as a whole. Nothing less than another ivory war could be at stake. “This is an animal that has been under siege for centuries,” says Todd. “But now it’s faced with extirpation.”
Although the elephant-trade ban has been in place since 1989, real protection for the threatened species ended in 1997. That’s when pro-ivory trade forces pushed through a decision in CITES that allowed a one-time exception to the ban on sales of stockpiled ivory. The idea was that by allowing a few legal sales, pressure for ivory goods would diminish, mostly in richer Asian nations, and therefore reduce the demand for poaching. If poaching was an illegal drug, stockpile sales were the methadone.But the treatment didn’t work. From 1997 to 2007, following those stockpile sales, poaching and seizures of illegal ivory began to rise. In Tanzania alone, the percentage of elephant mortality attributed to poaching rose from 22% in 2003 to 62% in 2009. The wholesale price of high-quality ivory went from $200 per kilogram to $850 per kilogram in 2007, and then doubled again by 2009. As economies boomed in Asia — the destination for much of the ivory trade, at least initially — demand for white gold continued to rise. And ivory-trade regulation in the U.S. is confusing and full of holes — ivory was even being traded on eBay until the Internet vendor shut down the sale of it recently. “The data shows that the U.S. is the second largest retail ivory market in the world,” says Todd. “It’s hard for consumers to know what is legal and what’s not.”That will remain the case as long as stockpile sales remain, flooding the market with ivory and weakening what was once a powerful moral prohibition against the trade. It doesn’t help that in 2007 CITES gave South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe permission to sell 110 tons of stockpiled ivory to China and Japan. The E.U. allowed that sale on the condition that there would be a nine-year moratorium on future stockpile sales, but CITES applied that ban only to those four countries — leaving Tanzania and Zambia open to request their own sales. “We keep moving the goalposts,” says Steven Broad, the executive director of TRAFFIC International, which monitors wildlife trade.
In an article in the March 11 edition of Science, an assortment of wildlife experts from around world — including several African nations — argue that science simply does not support any additional ivory sales. Over the past 30 years African elephants have declined to about 35% of their original numbers, and the population today is less than 500,000. Allowing further sales in Zambia and Tanzania — already considered the center of the illegal elephant trade — would likely end up increasing poaching, especially in neighboring nations like Zimbabwe where enforcement is rapidly falling apart. If poaching and trade continue at the current rate, African elephants could disappear from the majority of their range by 2020. “The decisions made at CITES will decide these elephants,” says Todd. “It’s too late for too many of them.”The good news is that at the upcoming CITES summit, nations will have the chance to once more put a stop to the elephant trade. CITES is the rare international treaty with real teeth — countries that decide to defy it can face serious trade sanctions. As the experts in this week’s Science put it, “no ‘one-off’ ivory sales should be approved.” They have the power to prevent another — and bloodier — ivory war.

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CIBJO President as officiating VIP guest at HK Show

He praised the developments of the Global J-ID Management Label Scheme
CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri attended the Hong Kong International Show, as an officiating VIP guest during the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre on March 5. His participation reiterated CIBJO’s key role in the present gem and jewellery industry and its focus on maintaining consumer confidence.He was accompanied by Rep. Starry Lee Wai-king, a member of Legislative Council of Hong Kong representing the constituency of Kowloon West; Bi Lijun, Vice Director of the National Gems & Jewellery Technology Administrative Centre of the Ministry of Land and Resources of the Peoples’ Republic of China, Fred Lam, Executive Director of the Hong King Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Lawrence Ma, Chairman of the HKTDC Jewellery Advisory Committee.

Dr. Cavalieri also participated as a keynote speaker at a seminar organised at the Hong Kong International Show on the Global J-ID Management Label Scheme, which has been developed by the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers’ Association, in partnership with the Hong Kong Productivity Council and with the support of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the Government of Hong Kong SAR. The scheme involves a permanent barcode laser-engraved on a jewellery item, which contains information about the jewellery and its manufacturing company. The barcode can be read using a specially developed J-ID reader, and customers can confirm the barcode information on J-ID’s official website.

“We deal in products that reflect people’s dreams, desires and feelings of self-image,” Dr. Cavalieri said in his address. This brings with it a very high degree of responsibility, for our clients will not tolerate a situation in which their dreams, desires or feelings of self-image are compromised by jewellery and gemstones with tarnished reputations. Our clients’ trust is the very foundation of our business. Full disclosure, personal integrity and traceability are essential to maintain our client’s trust. We have to disclose exactly what we are selling, from where the jewellery was sourced and how it was manufactured and graded.”

Dr. Cavalieri praised the development of the Global J-ID Management Label Scheme, which he said “disclose to clients what they are buying and provide a jewellery item with instant traceability.” He identified that the J-ID system used the terminology and nomenclature contained in the CIBJO Blue Books.

The Ethics of Gold

By Rob Bates, Senior Editor

source: JCK Online

Issue 1: Conflict Gold

Background The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has had a higher profile ever since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to that country last summer. The ongoing war there is considered one of the world’s worst, with gruesome reports of rape, sexual violence, and other atrocities. Until now, activists who charge that conflict minerals are funding Congo unrest have focused mostly on minerals used in electronics, rather than gold. But Sasha Lezhnev, of the Enough Project, said that’s changing. “Gold is increasing as a problem as its price goes up,” he told JCK. He said gold is now the second-biggest contributor to Congo unrest after tin.

Recent news60 Minutes in late November ran a story explicitly linking gold jewelry to the Congo war. Lezhnev said his group plans to survey the major jewelry chains and sellers about how they source their gold. A bill about conflict minerals is under consideration by Congress, but it doesn’t mention gold.

The future Lezhnev said conflict-mineral activists would like to see a “Kimberley Process for gold,” but some Kimberley Process veterans say that’s unlikely. “People use the term ‘Kimberley Process’ without really knowing what that is,” says Jewelers of America chairman Matthew A. Runci. “It’s an open question whether that kind of approach can be developed for gold.” He said his group is now meeting with gold miners and NGOs to discuss possible solutions. In any event, major companies will be under pressure to show a traceable supply chain.

Issue 2: Dirty Gold

Background The No Dirty Gold campaign calls gold mining one of the “world’s dirtiest industries,” claiming that one ring’s worth of gold production creates 20 tons of mine waste. The mining industry disputes that characterization and that figure, but no one doubts that gold mining—particularly its use of cyanide—affects the environment. Activists urge jewelers to question suppliers about their gold sources and to use recycled gold.

Recent news The No Dirty Gold campaign has been urging retailers to sign its Golden Rules, which commit them to ethical sourcing of gold. While many industry members, including Tiffany, have signed, Tiffany chief executive officer Michael Kowalski told JCK, “There are things in the Golden Rules that require further clarification. In some ways they are aspirational. One needs to get into the details to make them meaningful.” Still, Tiffany has generally won plaudits from activists for sourcing most of its gold from the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah.

The controversy over gold mining is one of the issues that led to the formation of the Responsible Jewellery Council, the industry group that certifies members’ business practices. Some nongovernmental organizations prefer the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a group that’s considered more inclusive of NGOs but slower moving.

The future Earthworks, one of the forces behind the No Dirty Gold campaign, plans to release findings of a study that investigated how leading retailers source gold, including those who have signed The Golden Rules. “The report is a five-year check-in on the progress that has been made since the No Dirty Gold campaign began,” says Earthworks’ Payal Sampat.

Issue 3: Pebble Mine

Background Pebble mine is a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. It’s being sought by Anglo American, one of the owners of De Beers, and Northern Dynasty, a junior partner partially owned by Rio Tinto. But its planning is caught up in controversy. Critics worry it will destroy the bay, the world’s largest wild salmon habitat, and the local fishing industry that depends on it. The people behind the mine say they will take care not to harm the environment and argue it will bring jobs to the area.

Recent news Anti-mine activists are asking jewelers to sign a Bristol Bay pledge, which says in part: “We are committed to sourcing our gold and other materials in ways that ensure the protection of natural resources such as the Bristol Bay Watershed.” Tiffany not only signed the pledge but also campaigned against the mine, going so far as to buy ads against it and screen an anti-mine movie. But now Kowalski says the company will step back and “let the people of Alaska decide the mine’s future.” He notes that this controversy points to a larger issue. “One of the more challenging questions is: How do you define the places that should be off-limits to mining? For us, Pebble represents a poster child of where mining of any sort should not take place.”

The future The mine’s backers will probably request that it be permitted this year. Then an environmental review will kick in. Earthworks’ Bonnie Gestring cites three efforts aimed at stopping the mine, a bill and two lawsuits. Even if all goes well for the mine, it likely won’t start production for years.