Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

The tiny village of Ilakaka, Madagascar had barely 40
residents before 1998. Then, a large deposit of sapphires
was discovered along a nearby riverbed, and caught the
eye of some Thai businessmen in the gem trade. Word
got out, and Ilakaka swelled to tens of thousands of residents.

The center of a sapphire boom, today the source of
nearly 50% of all the sapphires in the world. Illegal miners
mixed with large-scale operations, all operating under
little or no regulation, in a wild-west atmosphere
of potential fortunes, lawlesness, violence and hardship.

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

In the years since, the easily-mined sapphire fields
have been picked clean, and the remaining miners often work in
deep holes, climbing far underground. Mining is also a family
effort - according to an official study, of the 21,000
children living in the region, 19,000 belong to working families.

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines


Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines

Ilakaka : Sapphire Mines


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