The Environmental Impact of Mining Crystalsposted on 14 August 2017 | posted in Articles
About 5 or 6 years ago I received an email from a lady called Kerry who asked me this question.
"Hi, I would appreciate your opinion on the environmental impact of crystals. I have quite a few myself (some bought from you) and I'm starting to feel a little concerned as to how the earth is being treated to obtain them. There is also the fair treatment of the workers to consider. Crystals are so beautiful and so powerful I hope you can put my mind at rest. Love, Light and Reiki."
Well, I thought I'd share with you all the reply I sent to her, a couple of names have been changed to protect the innocent (!) and I've edited it very slightly so that it better fits into a newsletter format but it's still 99% as it was sent.
My reply was as follows,
I'm going to tell you a story first. A number of years ago, I did my first ever crystal work shop, where people actually paid to come and listen to what I had to say, amazing !
It was my very first time and I did it in a healing centre run by a lady who for the sake of argument we shall call Lady H. Now before everyone arrived Lady H and I had agreed that she would do an introduction to her healing centre and then talk for 2 or 3 minutes on crystals, then introduce me and hand over to me.
What actually happened in practice was that her 2 or 3 minute introduction went something like this - "Hi everybody, welcome to the Lady H healing centre, we have Steve Sippitt here this morning from He Hi She Lo Crystals who is going to talk to us all about the crystals that we probably all have and own and which are blasted out of the ground and wrenched from the earth just so that we can ignore them and leave them sitting on our mantelpiece's - over to you then Steve"
Now bear in mind this was my very first ever workshop !
What her introduction did teach me (albeit a trial by fire) was that the points you have raised in your email are valid points that do need thinking about from time to time and that this is an issue we just need to be aware of, rather than shunt away to the background of our minds.
Before I tell you my feelings on the matter, and what I told the good folk on the day at that fateful workshop, let me just say that I no longer deal with Lady H's healing centre any longer !
1) A lot of the crystals and minerals that you see for sale everywhere are not necessarily mined for exclusively - rather they are found as the by-product of mining for other elements, Coal, Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies, Bauxite (a major ore of Aluminium) Copper, Silver, Gold, etc etc so the Earth is not being "ravaged" to bring you Sodalite, Red Jasper, Bloodstone etc.
Has this always been the case? No, absolutely not.
Pressure bought to bear by green parties and world opinion is having an effect on conservation though and thankfully this is likely to increase.
2) There are something like 4,000 minerals known to humankind. Of these something like 1,400 can be found in Brazil. Large numbers of minerals also exist in Columbia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Mexico, Afghanistan, India, and many, many African states.
What do these countries all have in common? They are all amongst the poorest nations on Earth and exporting minerals is a valuable source of income to them. If their exports generate income then their governments can provide a better standard of living for their people.
So, do these countries all have good governments with plans for civil regeneration? Some do, some don't, but if yet another source of income is taken away from them, then they probably never will.
3) What about the miners themselves, are they treated well ?
Probably not - not in any country. Think back to how miners even here in the UK were treated right up to the 1930's. Sadly they probably never will be. It may well be a necessary job but is neither a glamorous enough job nor is it a job that can even be seen to be done by the vast majority of us in order for those who do it to be well treated.
4) Are we using minerals without even realising it? Definitely yes !
Lepidolite is a source of Lithium - Lithium powers the Duracel batteries you buy. You probably have miles of Copper pipes in your house and miles of Copper wiring in your walls. Kyanite is sometimes used in the manufacture of spark plugs in cars. The airplanes you fly in to go on holiday are made from Aluminium and Titanium. Carbon is used to add to iron to make all the stainless steel products in your house. Graphite is used in pencils and in motor oils. Nickel is used in coins.
If this sounds like an argument to stop mining altogether - think how different our world would be with no iron, steel, copper etc.
I think that there are many more things that also have an equal environmental impact on our planet. Lets think about air-travel and tourism. Think of car pollution. Think of deforestation. Think of greenhouse gasses. Think about the rubbish disposed of into the sea and the oceans. If nothing else, think of the ever growing numbers of people our planet now has to support.
I think that we have sort of "inherited" these things from the actions of our forebears and that we can only ever hope to put things right by managing things better. The same applies (and it's taken me a long while to get to the point here ! ) in our use of the Earths minerals. Maybe one day we will find, for example, a synthetic Copper and then we won't have to mine for it any longer.
In the same way as we can only try to "manage" the other world problems I've touched on above - we must also try to "manage" our use of the Earths resources.
5) So far I have only written from a material or scientific point of view, but there are many, many people out there who believe that so many crystals are being made available to us today, in order that those of us who work with them can use them to help heal the many problems that are facing our planet at the moment. The recession of the ice-caps is revealing many more stones and crystals from Greenland that were previously unavailable. China is discovering more new crystals as the country continues to develop and expand at a pace. Russia is also a source of new and unusual crystals too.
This seems like a perfectly valid argument to me and perhaps we could all spend a little time doing some Earth Healing, healing areas of war and strife - to give back to our planet a little peace and thankfulness in return for the treasures that it has given up to us.
6) So where does all of this leave us?
In summary I'd say this. You are perfectly correct to be concerned, but don't let your concern ruin the enjoyment of the crystals that you are presently safekeeping (I say safekeeping for no one "owns" a crystal). By buying your crystals you are possibly helping the people in poorer countries to a (marginally) better standard of living. Can you be sure of this? Sadly no. You will be bringing their healing power to many other people in this country though.
Can I sum all of this email up in a single paragraph ?
"Do be concerned but don't be put off. Crystals balance extreme beauty with extreme poverty, stunning colours with deep and dangerous mines, incredible forms and structures with the need to better manage the Earths resources. In short - they are a balance. Exactly the same as the balance that they can bring to your life."
With lots of Love
Now I must have said something right in my reply as a few days later I received this email back !
You have certainly helped to deal with some of my fears regarding the mining of crystals. They are so beautiful and powerful, I guess, like everything else on this planet it's all about balance. I already send earth healing and will now do it with this issue in mind. It is true that crystals bring so much into peoples lives, I will encourage my students who mostly all use crystals to send similar earth healing - we will do it as a group.
Incidentally, your web site is wonderful, I shall be passing your web details to others. Would you mind if I also print out the reply you sent me to show to my students/colleagues/friends ?
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