Diamonds have always been associated with luxury, wealth and beauty but while these gems may be desired by many for their flawless, stunning appearance and what they symbolize, the ugly truths of the diamond industry and how some jewelry pieces come to be are finally being brought to light.
One community in particular, Koidu, which is Sierra Leone’s largest city, has been directly impacted by the consequences of diamond mining, and have lived the sad reality of those who live in easily exploited mining countries. Reuters reporter Cooper Inveen interviewed some of the residents to understand how it has affected their lives, community, and environment.
One resident, Kalie Bangura, showed the black welts on his arms and legs, and says they are the result of drinking and bathing in water contaminated by the country’s largest diamond mine. Homes made from mud bricks and aluminum are damaged by the years of living by the mines and experiencing blasts, despite residents in the blast zones being promised housing relocation by the mining company responsible.
The complaint, filed in Sierra Leone’s High Court in March, claims $288 million in damages for “degradation or destruction of land, destruction of homes and loss of livelihoods and ...dumping of toxic mine waste,” among other things, as stated in the article. This lawsuit is just one of the many high-profile lawsuits filed by locals against foreign natural firms in many developing countries.
The communities behind the suits are advocating for the protection of their neighborhood and their health. As mentioned by Iveen, in Koidu “73 plaintiffs who all live within 500 meters of the mine say they have suffered coughing fits, respiratory infections and headaches from living around the mine, according to court documents.”. The mining company has been held responsible, and is currently in the process of building homes for residents farther away from the mine to avoid further damage. This is a step in the right direction, and only the beginning of the moral and ethical revolution within the diamond industry.