Monday, June 7, 2010

Manufactured Ignorance Part 1

Recent advertisements in the press are now touting "manufactured diamonds" instead of "artificial" ones. Seems the old term has too many negative connotations. The sale of mined diaminds is controlled by a world diamond federation controlled by De Beers. Too many diamionds available means prices drop.

The idea of engraving a serial number was introduced to stop the flow of so-called "blood diamonds" and the sale of arms to such countries as Angola. Very commendable. Nothing was said, though, about the working conditions of the African labourers who mine the bulk of "legitimate" diamonds.

A mantra of the diamond trade is the search for the perfect flawless diamond. It is the imperfections in diamonds that make them characteristic, and flawless diamonds are considered most valuable.

Industrial diamonds have been manufactrured for many years, but have been too small for any use except high-grade abrasives. It is no conincidence that the manufacture of larger stones (1/2 carat and larger) occurred at the same time as De Beers demanded that legal diamonds be etched with a serial number. Any diamonds without this number would then be considered to be illegal blood diamonds, or artifical ones.

It is no surprise that manufactured diamonds are indistinct from mined diamonds, except that they are perfect (and lack the diamond merchants' serial number, of course).

How long before a small miner begins salting its leases with manufactured diamonds made to look like mined diamonds?

This notion came back to mind after the Australian miners started their campaign against the super profits resources tax. Surprisingly, the biggest complainer is Exstrata, based in Europe. The tax does not negatively affect a miner's profitability. In fact it increase the manouvering room a miner has in market negotiations. But what the tax does, and no one seems to mention this, is guarantee the entry of small miners into the resources business. Now, this added competition is definitely not in the interests of the established miners, but they can't say that the tax will actually increase competition and reduce prices of manufactured goods (and coal-based power) to consumers.

Australia is the first country to introduce a financial incentive of this nature for competitive resource exploitation. This has international ramifications, and it must be stopped here, hence Exstrata's involvement.

No way, Jose! Let the lies begin, and the public servants manipulate those lies to serve their own ignorant agendas.

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