Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Sapphire Mines Of Madagascar

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.

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