9breaking’s analysis reveals lessons from last week’s diamond rush in South Africa, including how the government’s failure to address public concerns poses a threat to health and the environment.
There is barely room to stand, let alone dig another hole. Footage from last week’s scene of working gem hunters in the small South African town of KwaHlathi showed exhausted men and women, some with children strapped to their backs.
Similar scenes were last seen during the great diamond rush in Marange, Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands, in September 2006, when a mineral storm erupted with devastating effects. A government takeover accelerated the momentum in the months that followed.
The situation culminated in 10,000 illegal artisanal miners working on small plots of land, leading to a water, sanitation and housing crisis. So far, current events in the town at Ladysmith have not reached such dramatic scales, in part because experts are still trying to authenticate them.
9breaking’s analysis shows that the site in South Africa is far removed from the clusters of other established diamond mining sites.
which isn’t a bulletproof tell-tale sign, but one that reduces the chances of Dr. Gideon Groenewald, a geologist from South Africa, said in an interview that kimberlite resembles dolerite and that in the area of KwaZulu-Natal where people started digging, there are “serious dolerite intrusions.
” With “lots of dolerites all over there,” there’s a possibility the gems could turn out to be quartz crystals, though he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of diamonds being found. The frenetic digging may have been partly caused by fears among local diggers that the government would not compensate them for their findings.
Claude Kabemba, director of Southern Africa Resource Watch, said people are concerned about possible government corruption. People fear that if the state comes, they may not benefit as they should, he said.
The risk of sending security forces to protect the area from illegal mining is that they become part of the trade, Kabemba says. His advice to the government is to have a healthy dialogue with the people who dig and develop a structure that they understand.
If these are diamonds, he expects a battle for control of these minerals between humans and government.