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ETE Mining Practices

What is Enter the Earth?

Enter the Earth is a North Carolina based company owned by Amy and Nader Kawar. We have a retail store and wholesale warehouse in Asheville, North Carolina and a factory in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. We also operate the Ocean Jasper mines in the Sofia region of northwestern Madagascar.

You can learn more about our company on the About Us section of our wholesale website.

How are the workers in your factory treated?

We not only pay our workers a fair wage, we are part of the community. Many of our suppliers are Madagascan owned businesses, operated by the same families for generations.

Our regular factory hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. with a paid lunch hour and breaks. We give a per diem to cover the cost of food. Additionally, we observe many American pay practices there like holiday pay, overtime pay, and goal based bonuses.

We provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against injury while breaking, cutting, and polishing stones. This includes but is not limited to goggles, coveralls, gloves, and steel toed boots. We also have ear protection for loud equipment.

Our primary safety concern is the prevention of silicosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica. Air extractors and fans help eliminate dust in the factory and stones are cut with water to reduce exposure. Finally, we provide all of our workers with particle filtering masks. We also share them with our suppliers.

We do not employ underage workers in our factory or mines.

How are the workers at the Ocean Jasper mine treated?

Enter the Earth covers all the expenses at the mine, including housing and food. Miners work Monday through Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to avoid the heat of the day. (They do not work on Thursdays for cultural reasons.) Additionally, we observe many American pay practices there like holiday pay, overtime pay, and goal based bonuses.

We provide tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against injury while mining and breaking or moving rough rock. This includes but is not limited to goggles, hard hats, reflective safety clothing, gloves, steel toed boots, and particle filtering masks.

What are your mining practices?

Ocean Jasper is collected by shallow surface mining, no deeper than most house foundations underground. While all mining has an environmental impact, we do not use heavy machinery, explosives, or chemicals for extraction.

We follow standard land reclamation practices. Ocean Jasper is more technically a chalcedony, a variety of quartz. Mining chalcedony does not release dangerous byproducts into the local environment. Excavated areas are filled back in with waste rock, replicating the succession of soil layers, and the original shape of the landscape is returned. Finally, we restore native vegetation with replanting projects.

We also partner with the neighboring communities during the rainy season, when mining is not possible, to plant trees used locally like mango and lemon.

What charitable giving do you do?

Since Amy Kawar, one of the owners of Enter the Earth, was an elementary school teacher, much of our charitable giving has revolved around education. We pay for the schooling, books, and supplies for all of our factory workers’ children. We have also supported education-based charities working on the island.

We constructed a school for the remote communities near the Ocean Jasper mines in 2000. We pay for the local children’s education, school supplies, and the salaries of the teachers. Additionally, we built a health clinic there in 2017. We pay for both the medical supplies and the salaries of the nurses and doctors.

Finally, we work with both the local and regional government to support the economic development of the Sofia region. For example, each year we help repair roads damaged during the rainy season. We have also supported the maintenance of local government offices, including providing solar power and back up batteries.

We are currently working on three wells to ensure clean drinking water to the local community and the construction of a bridge for safer travel.

Are your stones treated?

None of our Madagascan materials are artificially irradiated and only our sardonyx is dyed. A limited number are heated to enhance their color like blue apatite, most carnelian, and some hematoid quartz. While our blue apatite may be resin stabilized, almost all of our other materials are natural.

How has your company responded to the coronavirus?

Both our retail store and wholesale warehouse in Asheville, North Carolina were closed for almost seven weeks. They reopened in mid-May, under North Carolina and Buncombe County safety mandates. We have limited customer capacity to support social distancing, masks and face coverings are required, and we are regularly cleaning shared surfaces.

Similar safety procedures are being observed in Madagascar. We shared the masks typically used for cutting and polishing stones with our workers, their families, and our suppliers.

Additionally, Enter the Earth donated food and basic supplies to people in need in the communities around the Ocean Jasper mines.