A socio-economic study of small-scale gemstone mining in Sri Lanka.
Gemstone mining in the study area was carried out on a small-scale basis using manual labour and traditional technology. The organisation of the industry is based on a co-operative system and production sharing.
A decline in the available area of gemstone deposits, a decline in the income
generated, an increase in the cost of inputs, a shortage of capital, and difficulties in obtaining licences were some of the problems encountered by small-scale mine owners. No sufficient measures have been taken by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority to overcome these problems.
Mine owners were interested to undergo training on how to explore for gemstone deposits, how to determine the correct value of gemstones, small business management and repair and maintenance of equipment.
The majority of the mineworkers belonged to low income families and had very poor living conditions. The lack of a regular income, shortage of gemstone deposits and the decline in the price obtained, exploitation by mine owners, hazardous operation in mines, and the lack of pension and insurance coverage during their old age were some of the problems encountered by mine workers.
Mine workers expressed most interest in participating in training on how to determine the correct value of gemstones, how to apply first aid, how to explore for gemstone deposits, and mining laws and labour regulations.
Both the mine owners and mine workers preferred a classroom style of training delivery on a non-work day. However, mine workers also felt that on-the-job training methods would be valuable to them.