Monday, February 8, 2016

Journal 4 Diamonds in Sierra Leone and the Kono District - written by Andy

(I apologize if this is a longer than required read!)
The Kono district, located in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, is noted as being the largest location for the production and mining of alluvial diamonds.  An alluvial diamond is a diamond that has been moved naturally from its original location.  In some situations these diamonds were easily accessible due to being very close to the surface.
Two types of mining can be used to harvest diamonds and both are still being used today in the Kono district.  Formal/industrial mining, which includes large funding or government investment that has strict rules and is run by companies.  Formal mining is primarily used is easily accessible locations that allows the transfer of equipment.  This becomes a problem when trying to access smaller isolated areas.  Informal/small-scale mining is much more common.  Most of the time groups work together using very basic tools such as sieves. A sieve is a tool very similar to a strainer which is made of wire mesh held in a frame which is used to separate solids from liquids and finer particles such as diamonds in this case.  Miners are physically working instead of machines and most of the time there are no rules or regulations set on site.  This also sets the tone that diamonds are being harvested illegally.
Payment for harvesting diamonds informally ranges anywhere from $3 - $6 US dollars per day and if you are fortunate enough to find diamonds you apparently may receive up to $10.  This is also causing children to drop out of school in hopes of making a fortune but the chances of that happening are very slim to none.  Without an education this relates to the real-life “brain washing” scenario and these children believe what they are told and fight for a cause they believe is justified.
Accessibility, as well as the desire, for diamonds slowly lead to a power struggle between civilians, government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leading to the term “conflict diamonds”.  The United Nations (UN) definition is as follows " that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council."  Another term would be "blood diamonds."
You would expect the Kono district to be lavish due to the being full of diamonds, but it is apparently quite the opposite according to two separate journal entries I read about Kono with their first hand experiences.  The roads are unpaved dirt which makes travelling very uncomfortable and the main source of energy for most is via generators run on fuel.  Fuel shortages are apparently quite frequent due to the distant location.  Some of the buildings are occupied as well as destroyed from the past conflicts.  Companies apparently take what they need to profit and hardly give anything back to the land, people or country.  Another description was written as follows “Diamond miners in the Kono district of eastern Sierra Leone have left behind thousands of abandoned mining pits. Wildlife has vanished, topsoil has eroded, and land once suitable for farming is now a desolate moonscape. The mining pits have created a public health disaster as well. When the pits fill with stagnant rainwater, they become infested with mosquitoes, spreading malaria and other water-borne diseases.”

The link I selected as being the most valuable information source is one of the first hand experiences:

This image captures daily mining in what was stated to be Kono.  I personally think it might be a formal mining operation just due to the amount of people pictured.  Obviously rules and regulations look to be very minimal.  What is your personal opinion?


  1. very good. and you would think that they would be payed more than 3-6 dollars per day if they were harvesting diamonds.

  2. I read a lot about how the diamonds played a huge part in what the RUF was and what it became. Very good entry

  3. Probably the biggest reason for RUF to attack villages and the war to happen was the natural resources in Africa for which villagers had no idea what to do with that.

  4. To see how the war began really gets you thinking about our book.

  5. Thanks, all! I tried to touch on points that we did not come across in A Long Way Gone. It's definitely wild.

  6. Wow. A lot of information there. I could tell you were really in to this topic. Nice job.

  7. this is very cool, but why do they get payed so little?


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