Sierra Leone: Diamonds, gold and mining: Blessing or curse?

Remember the film Blood Diamond? It brought together a warlord hungry to feed his bloody business, a diamond smuggler eager to leave Africa (Leonardo DiCaprio) on his last operation, an attractive journalist (Jennifer Connelly) investigating the ins and outs of the illegal trade, a corrupt European businessman, a Mende slave, and his son who was turned into a child soldier.

Depicting the diamond business in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 1990s, the film finishes with an actual conference that took place in Kimberley, South Africa, in 2000. It led to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of rough diamonds in order to curtail the trade of so-called “conflict diamonds,” mined in war zones and sold to finance an insurgency or warlordsactivity.

Whether the origin of the nice stones mounted in wedding rings and other costly jewelry is dubious or not is difficult to know exactly. But the fact is that Sierra Leone has relied on diamonds for its economic base. It is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a main producer of gold, and has one of the world’s biggest deposits of rutile.



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