SOCIAL PROJECT | Africa: Her Blood Diamonds And Yellow stones |
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* Diamond mining in Africa
Ever since the Kimberley diamond strike of 1868, South Africa has been a world leader in diamond production. The primary South African sources of diamonds, including seven large diamond mines around the country, are controlled by the De Beers Consolidated Mines Company. In 2003, De Beers’s operations accounted for 94% of the nation's total diamond output of 11,900,000 carats.
Nicky Oppenheimer, the current Chairman of DeBeers.
* The life of the miners
The search for diamonds is not exactly easy. Many miners and diamond diggers in sub-Saharan Africa travel great distances to find work and submit to gruelingly long hours for low wages – or sometimes no wages – in substandard conditions. Child labor has long been a problem in informal diamond mines, especially during times of war. Children have often been exploited to do excavation work because they are small enough to be lowered into small, narrow pits by ropes to dig out sacks of dirt, which is in turn washed by other children in search of diamonds. During Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war, children were often used as soldiers and workers in the rich Koidu diamond mines that funded the country’s rebels. USAID launched the Kono Peace Diamond Alliance in 2002 to try to improve the working conditions in the mines – particularly for children. But it is an uphill battle across Africa to get children who are either family breadwinners, or fending for themselves or conscripted into slave-like labor to stop working and go to school.
A child solider in Africa
Land is often cleared and vegetated areas dug up to create open pit mines in the rushed search for diamond deposits, leaving them unsuitable for other farming activities. Informal mining in hilly areas also leads to erosion – and, in turn, flooding. The salt, heavy minerals and chemical...