June 11, 2014

1098 MADAGASCAR - Children of the miners of Ilakaka

Not rarely, in the world turned upside down in which we live, in countries rich in terms of natural resources live the poorest people. Madagascar (which is among the world's principal suppliers of vanilla, cloves and ylang-ylang, but also provides half of the world's supply of sapphires, and holds one of the world's largest reserves of ilmenite (titanium ore), as well as important reserves of chromite, coal, iron, cobalt, copper and nickel) is one of these. In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated at just over 22 million, 90 percent of whom live on less than two dollars per day.

As I say before, the biggest wealth of Madagascar consists in the alluvial sapphire deposits in Ilakaka, a  town in the south western part of the island. In the early 1990s there were only about 40 residents in the area, but after the discovery of the deposits in the valley in 1998 the population had boomed to near 60,000, Ilakaka becoming a Wild West town, a victim of "Sapphire fever." Sapphire is mined by the very poor, usually in father-son teams, who hope to become rich. Unofficial plots are pitted with wells, into which the miners descend at the risk of their lives to find a seam. The landscape has been remade by such operations. The sheet metal shacks where the miners cram themselves have neither running water nor electricity, and there are very few paved roads.

About the stamps
The last stamp, depicting the Jean Laborde Blast Furnace, was issued on January 30, 2013.

Ilakaka - Wikipedia
Update on Sapphire Mining in Ilakaka-Sakaraha, Madagascar - GIA

sender: Hayatun (direct swap)
sent from Antanararivo (Madagascar), on 20.05.2014
photo: Pierrot Men / 1999

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