Gemstone providers that directly source their goods from mines have a unique advantage—and responsibility—as compared to those who do not, said Gerald Tempton, president of Liquidation Channel. These companies have a powerful opportunity to add value to their customers, as well as ensure that ethical mining practices are put into place. The result: companies that directly source from mines are better positioned to improve the quality of products, and the quality of life, for their customers and local mining economies.
“All tanzanite is sourced from one place, and they only sell to people who are site holders at the ‘TANZANITEONE’ Mine,” Tempton said. “We get first right of refusal on all tanzanite, ensuring that we only get the best tanzanite in the world.” By cutting out third parties, Liquidation Channel oversees its own sourcing and passes these benefits on to their customers.
According to one study, the value chain concept reveals that companies can offer a significant competitive advantage by determining value-added methods in a sequential chain—such as directly sourcing gems—to satisfy the wants and needs of consumers. Such value-added actives, as well as the linking of each activity, give jewelers more opportunity to deliver high-quality benefits and goods to their consumers. Liquidation President, Gerald Tempton, points to primary value-added activities that companies can use to pass on benefits to their customers. These include inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, service, and support areas.
Companies that directly source their gems have a unique advantage when it comes to inbound logistics. This refers to activities surrounding the acquisition of materials from suppliers. When businesses, such as Liquidation Channel, visit TANZANITEONE, they see first-hand how they can improve processes and product selection. This results in enhanced goods delivered to customers and exponential value-added or cost-saving measures being taken.
However, advantages of company-managed sourcing go further than this. A business is able to judge the ethics of a mine’s sourcing methods and able to choose to promote the local economy and well being.
As News Watch points out, there are powerful socio-economic and ecological considerations when extracting and trading gems. One way to help address the problems of poor work conditions, economic depravity, and other issues associated with mining is to develop improved frameworks for ethical, responsible, and fair trade mining.
Mr. Tempton says that these models are developed to promote improved eco-management capabilities, as well as improve economic environments for the local communities where gems are mined. Such frameworks address both current and future gem production. However, there is still work to be done. But when visiting mines, Liquidation Channel representatives evaluate the processes and put a focus on ethical mining.
If the gem industry is dedicated to improving practices and making them more sustainable, they must also address the consequences of previously mined gemstones. Former approaches have left signs of damage on environments from ill-conceived mining strategies. However, these past mistakes could be mitigated.
By addressing such past damage, the industry has the power to restore ecological environments and improve biodiversity conservation. There is a great level of potential for even using previously mined gemstones, cultivated decades ago, to fund and promote rehabilitation and conservation today. This unique approach to ethical mining uses the very gems that caused the problem to help fund the research and missions needed to fix them.
This is possible because experts can trace the lineage of many colored gemstones to their original source. Even gems mined a century ago could be used to finance rehabilitation and conservation efforts in the areas from which they were found.
However, by directly sourcing gems from a mine, jewelers and precious stone providers can immediately evaluate the methods used for mining, without any need to trace them. They can observe the areas in which they are invested, and make headway in promoting ethical mining. This is a distinct advantage for directly sourced gem providers.
As a jeweler who has seen gem mining firsthand, Mr. Tempton, of Liquidation Channel, suggests that when mining is done correctly, it has the power to promote a stronger economy and improve the livelihood of local regions. Mining activity offers job opportunities, infrastructure development, and the improvement of a region’s ability to supply services and goods.
In light of such benefits associated with ethical mining practices, there is a greater appeal for regions to increase equity for communities from mining companies, as well as to examine how mining wealth can promote economic advancements. Mining Weekly reports that in many African regions, governments are looking to acquire more revenues from mining companies. Nations have raised taxes, as well as royalties, and requested new reviews of mining agreements to help improve the advantages of local mining-related economics.
However, to ensure that these advantages are passed on to communities, the benefits from mining must be passed on to the community. Mining activity has the power to impact the lives of locals, and human rights issues play a large role in the industry. As such, the human rights element is highly important when gemstone providers, who choose to directly source their goods, want to stand for ethical mining.
The Ethics of Mining for Precious Stones
“Companies are facing increasing responsibilities to ensure the protection and respect of human rights,” said Paul Kapelus of Synergy Global Consulting. “This is particularly difficult in areas where even the government is unable to protect human rights.”
In fact, Tanzania is now an epicenter for child labor. Children are forced to work in mines. They are harvesting minerals, like diamonds and coltan. Dutch journalist, Adriana Stuijt reports that children in these mines are working under the “most abominable mining conditions of the 21st century.”
Until fairly recently, Tanzanian miners most often used shovels and picks to dig out gems, reported Beeld, a South African newspaper. Miners would dig incredibly dangerous shafts, up to 300 meters deep. Even more, they often did so without any added supports or even ventilation. In 1998, more than 100 miners drowned in these shafts. They had flooded during an extreme storm. In 2000, flooding drowned miners yet again. To make matters even worse, the newspaper cites instances of drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, AIDS, and no sanitation or health care.
With firsthand observations, companies that directly source their gems from mines have a special advantage in promoting value-added activities for their customers and promoting greater economic advantages to local communities.
In light of these findings, companies like Liquidation Channel, which directly source their gems, not only have the power to stand for ethical, value-added mining—they have a responsibility to do so.