The banks of Ghana’s Birim River are filled with diamonds, with many artisanal miners digging up this precious gemstone since 1920. The mansions in Akwatia, a town near the river, are owned by diggers who found large diamonds or by concession holders who take cuts from the finds of miners. By 1935, the production of diamonds doubled – with a million carats being produced per year through small-scale mining – making the Birim River an important source of diamonds. However, in the 1970s, diamond-rich areas declined and old mining equipment couldn’t process smaller stones of lower quality. It is these stones that most artisanal miners dig up today, with the majority of the 301,000 carats mined each year being darker stones tinier than 0.10 ct. In the 1980s, miners were allowed to work along a 40-mile stretch of the Birim River that bore diamonds but was not suitable for mechanised mining. In 2012, an investor group planned to revive mechanised mining in the area with an investment of $100 million. However, concessions will be maintained for artisanal miners to sustain the region’s economy. Source:

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