Socio-Economic Impact of Artisanal Mining of Blue Sapphire on the Mambilla Plateau

E. D. Oruonye


Blue sapphire gemstone has been mined on the Mambilla plateau and traded in different parts of the world including Thailand and Sri Lanka over the years. However, the new Mambilla blue sapphire discovered recently has generated a lot of excitement in the global community because of its high quality. This discovery has led to a general rush by the people in the area mostly youths into artisanal mining of the blue gemstone. This study examines the process of artisanal mining of blue sapphire and the socio-economic impact of the mining on the environment. Data were generated through interviews with key stakeholders. Ethnographic observation of the mining site was conducted during the fieldwork. Information was also collected from relevant secondary sources including reports, books and journal articles. The Information obtained from the individual interviews and focus group discussions was content-analyzed and subjected to descriptive analysis. The finding of the study shows that the artisanal mining of the blue sapphire has created employment opportunity to the teaming jobless youths in the area. This has attracted many people from within and outside the country to the area. Although the mining of the sapphire has created wealth to the people, the negative impacts of the mining is also a major concern as large tract of forest cover and scarce agricultural land in the area are loss in the process of sapphire hunt. This study therefore recommend for the need to put in place framework that integrates the artisanal miners fully into the productive sector of the national economy and advocacy campaign to enlighten artisanal miners on the direct link between their operations and environmental degradation and the need for adoption of sustainable method of mining.

Keywords: Artisanal, Blue sapphire, Impact, Mambilla and Socio-economic


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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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