Sierra Leone: Alluvial Diamond Mining

Seated in West Africa is the tropical country of Sierra Leone, one of the top ten diamond-producing nations. In addition to exploiting its rich natural resources of rutile, bauxite, gold, iron and limonite, Sierra Leone relies on diamond mining as its economic base. Artisanal diamond miners work in the alluvial diamond mines around Koidu Town, the capital of the diamond-rich Kono District in eastern Sierra Leone. Artisanal miners are independent subsistence miners who are not officially employed by a mining company. They use simple tools, mainly spades and sieves, to pan for diamonds. Alluvial diamond mining is an above ground form of mining, where diamonds are often found in the gravel layer under layers of mud and clay. The miner places a pile of silt onto the sieve and sifts in the water to remove the smaller particles, leaving only large mineral deposits of diamonds on the sieve. It is the most traditional and oldest mining method in the diamond industry.