BUXWAHA DIAMOND MINING PROJECT
The proposed Buxwaha diamond mining project is to be spread across an area of 364 hectares in the Buxwaha forests. The rough diamonds estimated that could be extracted is about 34 million carats.
With an investment of about Rs 2,500 crore the fully mechanized open-cast mine would extract diamond.
Once operational, the mine may become one of the largest diamond mines in the Asian region.
The Forest clearance report mentions that over 2,00,000 trees would need to be cut. This chopping of trees could lead to environmental destruction.
In 2006, Rio Tinto Exploration India Private Limited was licensed to explore diamond mining, later, the corporation exited the project.
The Buxwaha mining project has awarded to Essel Mining & Industries Limited in 2019. The company proposes to meet its water requirements by converting a seasonal stream into a dam.
In the Bundelkhand region, low rainfall has been the trend for the past 4 years.
The most important point is that any diamond mining project is a very high water intensive project. That is, the consumption of water in these projects is very high. As per estimates, the water requirement per year is 5.9 million cubic meters. The life of the proposed project is estimated at 14 years.
The project falls under the Bundelkhand region of India, which is a water-stressed area. This region is facing a water crisis and this forest is essential for the local ecology.
This project would add to the water woes of the region.
The diversion of water by constructing a dam would lead to groundwater depletion.
Setting up such a high-intensity water project in a place where there is already a problem of water, does it sound reasonable?
The seasonal stream will not be sufficient enough to meet the water requirement of the project. The company may end up using groundwater for their requirement.
This is likely to aggravate the water scarcity problem in the region.
The work of cutting down the forests of Bakswaha is starting soon. More than 2 lakh trees will be cut here. These trees are not being cut for better infrastructure and better roads, but for diamond mining.
Apart from providing livelihood to locals, it also provides shelter for many wildlife species that are dependent on these forests.
This area is the abode of several thousand tribes, who depend on these forests. Just, imagine the fate of these tribes, where do they go?
Public interest litigation has also been filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop the project.
The resistance from the local public is due to ecological balance that may lead to loss of livelihood.
Two kinds of waste are generated during the excavation of any ore. One is the overburden waste and the other is tailings or the remains of the mineral after salvaging the valuable components from the ore.
In this project, 5 metric tonnes of ore are excavated per annum then it would generate about 4 metric tonnes of soil, 16 metric tonnes of overburden waste and 5 metric tonnes of tailing waste. A large portion of the forest land will be used for dumping this waste.
Soil and overburden wastes are not contaminated and are easy to dispose of, as a process the tailing waste is disposed into the ponds. This toiling waste contains dissolved metals and various toxic ore processing reagents that seep into the ground.
The chemicals let out by the diamond extraction leak out and have a long-term impact on animals, humans and the environment.