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Old 09-27-2011, 10:24 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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Preventing Theft By Diamond Miners?

I saw something somewhere recently that reminded me of a scene from an old James Bond movie (I am guessing it was probably "Diamonds Are Forever", but I must have seen it over 30 years ago, so I am really not sure) showing a miner swallowing a diamond that he had just unearthed, presumably to "retrieve" it at a later time, probably earning him big bux when he sold it on the black market when he got the chance.

I assume that the temptation would be great, and I also assume that a miner could virtually make the equivalent of his annual salary with just one or two modest stones, even if he had to sell them at a tiny fraction of their actual value.

I guess an X-ray every time they left the mine would show up any secreted diamonds, but wouldn't a daily X-ray be too much radiation for any company, (no matter how greedy or unscrupulous it may be) to inflict on their employees?

Is there video surveillance on every square inch of an active mine and on every employee in said mine?

How do they stop pilfering of diamonds by the miners who originally unearth the raw stones?
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:34 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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Sort of related, but when I visited the Denver mint the employees could not take any coins out of the building, even if they had brought them in. A real simple way to stop theft.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:42 PM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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I'm guessing the diamonds don't pop out in final, polished form in the mines. Maybe like gold mining, all that happens in the mines is they break up rock to be refined outside. Also, raw diamonds are worth less than polished.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:46 PM
Sarabellum Sarabellum is offline
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I'm a former gemologist, so I've heard tales (but have never been to a diamond mine or worked in one) so take this with a grain of salt.

The truth is, that the miners steal LOTS of the smaller diamonds. Something like 25% of the total output of the mines disappears with the workers. And how do they know?

Well, rumor has it that DeBeers actually buys the stolen diamonds from the miners in pawnshop-like shops that are clustered around where the miners live. They don't want the stolen roughs (the uncut diamonds look kinda like pebbles) flooding the market, so they just bite the bullet and buy 'em back. The miners swallow them, store them in er, hidden areas on their person, and (again, rumors) even use trained carrier pigeons to get the stolen diamonds out of the mine camps.

Any miners that are CAUGHT stealing are fired immediately and prosecuted, and since diamond mining is a great job (relatively speaking) for the local miners and the families they support, I guess they try not to get too carried away.

DeBeers has a system where they x-ray randomly as workers enter and exit the camps, and since the majority of diamonds (not 100% of them, mind... but most) actually have fluorescent properties so they do show up on an xray.

Last edited by Sarabellum; 09-27-2011 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:02 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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Originally Posted by AaronX View Post
I'm guessing the diamonds don't pop out in final, polished form in the mines.
That's why I used terms like "raw stones" and "just unearthed" but I'm guessing that reading for comprehension isn't exactly your forte....
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:04 PM
mac_bolan00 mac_bolan00 is offline
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the best way to prevent theft during mining and processing is to have a mechanized continous process that does not require human intervention. only in the final sorting and grading stage of raw diamonds can human hands actually touch the gems. this process will now be done under strict security.
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:10 PM
boytyperanma boytyperanma is offline
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Killing people they suspect of theft or using slave labor that's never allowed to leave cuts down on theft.
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:23 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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It's 12 years old, but here is a good story relating to it.
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Old 09-28-2011, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MPB in Salt Lake View Post
That's why I used terms like "raw stones" and "just unearthed" but I'm guessing that reading for comprehension isn't exactly your forte....
My reading of what Aaron said was that perhaps the raw diamonds are not very distinguishable or separable from the rock being dug out and thus physically not easy to steal.
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Old 09-28-2011, 02:31 AM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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Maybe it's my writing, not my reading..
1. All that's produced in the mines are rocks that have to be taken outside. It's not viable to swallow/shove down your pants a 20 kg rock that may/may not contain a diamond.
2. Raw diamonds may be indistinguishable from other gems to an untrained observer (go image search "raw diamond", they look like quartz or topaz).
3. Even if you know it IS a diamond, you can't guess its value if you're not a professional, and certainly not in a dark, noisy mine, without stopping and staring at it, attracting attention. Are you holding a gemstone, or something destined for industrial abrasive?
4. Ok so you have a flawless raw diamond that's not embedded in rock. What are you going to do with it? The price of a VS2, G, 1.25 carat rough diamond is only US$375 per carat. And how likely are you to find a 1 carat diamond? http://www.info-diamond.com/rough/ro...nd-prices.html

It's a different story once the diamonds are polished. I read an article where the writer visited a place working with diamonds. At the end of the visit, the guard asked her how was her tour. But the guard wasn't listening to her reply, he was looking to see if she'd hidden any in her mouth.

Last edited by AaronX; 09-28-2011 at 02:34 AM. Reason: add reference
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Old 09-28-2011, 03:13 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Killing people they suspect of theft or using slave labor that's never allowed to leave cuts down on theft.
True but it makes recruiting new employees more difficult.
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Old 09-28-2011, 09:29 AM
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The price of a VS2, G, 1.25 carat rough diamond is only US$375 per carat.
And I spent how much on that darn engagement ring???
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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In South Africa, I believe that the miners have to spend a mandated amount of time (several hours) in a little dorm or rest facility before they can leave. Long enough that they have to relieve themselves in the company toilets at least once. This could cut down on smuggling attempts.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:33 AM
Teufelblitz Teufelblitz is offline
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Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
In South Africa, I believe that the miners have to spend a mandated amount of time (several hours) in a little dorm or rest facility before they can leave. Long enough that they have to relieve themselves in the company toilets at least once. This could cut down on smuggling attempts.
Imagine having to recover the stones from that. Talk about a shitty job.

Last edited by Teufelblitz; 09-28-2011 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:43 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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In South Africa, I believe that the miners have to spend a mandated amount of time (several hours) in a little dorm or rest facility before they can leave. Long enough that they have to relieve themselves in the company toilets at least once. This could cut down on smuggling attempts.
I'm skeptical. For one thing, most people can easily go several hours without taking a dump; to be reasonably sure that the employees are passing the stones the waiting period should be much longer. Second, even if some miners do pass the stones, what's to stop them from recovering the rocks from the toilets, washing them, and reinserting/reingesting them?

Last edited by psychonaut; 09-28-2011 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:13 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is online now
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Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
In South Africa, I believe that the miners have to spend a mandated amount of time (several hours) in a little dorm or rest facility before they can leave. Long enough that they have to relieve themselves in the company toilets at least once. This could cut down on smuggling attempts.
I haven't hear that before, but I have seen photos of black South African miners being stip searched en masse by white supervisors & guards.
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Old 09-28-2011, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MPB in Salt Lake View Post
That's why I used terms like "raw stones" and "just unearthed" but I'm guessing that reading for comprehension isn't exactly your forte....
MPB in Salt Lake, this kind of snark is inappropriate for GQ. No warning issued, but don't do this again.

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Old 09-28-2011, 02:43 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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MPB in Salt Lake, this kind of snark is inappropriate for GQ. No warning issued, but don't do this again.

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Obviously I am not in a position to argue here, and I don't want to start an issue (one that I am sure to lose) over something so trivial, and I also want to acknowledge that AaronX 2nd post was VERY informed and insightful, but you have to admit that his 1st post made it seem like he hadn't read my OP worth a darn....

That said, I shouldn't have written what I did, as it was not helpful or necessary.

Apology to AaronX, and thanks for the detailed info contained in your follow-up post.

Last edited by MPB in Salt Lake; 09-28-2011 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 09-28-2011, 03:52 PM
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Maybe it's my writing, not my reading..
1. All that's produced in the mines are rocks that have to be taken outside.
This isn't the case in the Namibian paleobeach and marine diamond extraction operations
Quote:
2. Raw diamonds may be indistinguishable from other gems to an untrained observer (go image search "raw diamond", they look like quartz or topaz).
It really doesn't take a lot of training to tell the real thing. Scratch and wetting tests are easy to perform anywhere. And diamond miners are trained to spot the real thing, so they don't accidentally feed a very big but slightly flawed stone to the crushers where it will become two less big stones.

And the term of art is "rough" diamond, not raw.
Quote:
3. Even if you know it IS a diamond, you can't guess its value if you're not a professional, and certainly not in a dark, noisy mine, without stopping and staring at it, attracting attention. Are you holding a gemstone, or something destined for industrial abrasive?
Again, this might be the case in some areas, but in the Namibian operations, around 98% of production is gem quality. That's because all the other stuff has been winnowed out by alluvial and marine working. A lot of the other diamond mines in the world aren't the stereotypical deep, dark, noisy mines either. They're frequently open pit workings.
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4. Ok so you have a flawless raw diamond that's not embedded in rock. What are you going to do with it? The price of a VS2, G, 1.25 carat rough diamond is only US$375 per carat.
Do you have any idea how much money that is to a 3rd World person?

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-28-2011 at 03:53 PM.
  #20  
Old 09-28-2011, 04:04 PM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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I'm skeptical. For one thing, most people can easily go several hours without taking a dump; to be reasonably sure that the employees are passing the stones the waiting period should be much longer. Second, even if some miners do pass the stones, what's to stop them from recovering the rocks from the toilets, washing them, and reinserting/reingesting them?
I believe that it was several hours they had to wait while they had a meal and R&R before being let out, on top of the hours spent on shift. Also, a toilet may be designed like an outhouse with a long drop so that you can't reach anything. But that's a WAG. This is working from a poor, distant memory.
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Old 09-28-2011, 04:06 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Imagine having to recover the stones from that. Talk about a shitty job.
This takes me back to my working days. I worked in a prison so we had a whole procedure for recovering contraband that people had swallowed. It specified how many hours a person had to be watched and how many times they had to defecate before they could be released. (It's trickier than you'd think. For example, there was a minimum time involved - otherwise, a person could swallow something and defecate without worry for several hours while the contraband was working its way through his stomach and intestines.)

Surprisingly, one thing that wasn't outlined in the procedure was how you searched the feces. So different methods were developed, from the merely unpleasant to the truly god-awful. I'll spare you the details.

Me, personally? I was a supervisor. My part of the procedure was assigning somebody else to the job and then calling them up every few hours to see how things were going.
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Old 09-28-2011, 04:43 PM
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I believe that it was several hours they had to wait while they had a meal and R&R before being let out, on top of the hours spent on shift. Also, a toilet may be designed like an outhouse with a long drop so that you can't reach anything. But that's a WAG. This is working from a poor, distant memory.
Re: how long it takes for an ingested item to travel the length of the GI tract to one's anus, I was under the impression it was on the order of days, not hours. A miner could work a 12-hour shift, and he'd still have to hang around for a couple of days to assure he didn't smuggle any diamonds out.

It's a different matter, I suppose, if the miner is inserting them in his rectum instead of his mouth.
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:06 PM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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This isn't the case in the Namibian paleobeach and marine diamond extraction operationsIt really doesn't take a lot of training to tell the real thing. Scratch and wetting tests are easy to perform anywhere. And diamond miners are trained to spot the real thing, so they don't accidentally feed a very big but slightly flawed stone to the crushers where it will become two less big stones.

And the term of art is "rough" diamond, not raw.
Again, this might be the case in some areas, but in the Namibian operations, around 98% of production is gem quality. That's because all the other stuff has been winnowed out by alluvial and marine working. A lot of the other diamond mines in the world aren't the stereotypical deep, dark, noisy mines either. They're frequently open pit workings.Do you have any idea how much money that is to a 3rd World person?
Oh ok, I was extrapolating from gold mining. You mean people walk out of diamond mines with rough stones, not pieces of rock? Either the mines are smaller than I thought, or diamonds are much easier to find. What's an easy way to distinguish a diamond from a worthless stone?
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:15 PM
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I think in the cases you mention, marine and open pit mines, the work is more mechanized and less unskilled labor, so stealing is harder. For one, there's less human contact with the mined material. Also, if the mine isn't dark and noisy, people are going to get suspicious if someone starts swallowing rocks.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:11 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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This takes me back to my working days.
...
Nemo - Have you retired? I missed that. If so, congrats. If it was a layoff, I'm sorry.
[/mini-hijack]
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:13 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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I think in the cases you mention, marine and open pit mines, the work is more mechanized and less unskilled labor, so stealing is harder. For one, there's less human contact with the mined material. Also, if the mine isn't dark and noisy, people are going to get suspicious if someone starts swallowing rocks.
The story I linked in post 8 is from 1999 but is clear that the Namibian beach mines rely heavily on laborers and that theft is (was?) rampant. At Alexkor, officials openly said theft was at 30 percent, or $15 million per year. And Alexkor was small potatoes compared to Namdeb, a rough estimate of the theft there was up to $160 million a year.

Again, the article is 12 years old, maybe they got the security figured out since then.

Quote:
Let's say a miner spots a diamond. He may glance around to make sure that security guards are looking the other way, and press the diamond under his fingernail for later transfer to another receptacle, such as his mouth. In the event that members of the security force have been corrupted (always a possibility), he needn't be that careful. The next step is to get the diamond out of the mining area. In one scheme workers smuggle trussed homing pigeons out to the mining areas in lunch boxes. They fit the birds with harnesses, load them with rough, and set them free. Sometimes the thieves are too ambitious. Security officials at Namdeb caught one thief when they found his pigeon dragging itself along the ground, its harness loaded beyond takeoff capacity.

Another time a thief smuggled in the pieces of a crossbow, later sending a volley of hollow bolts freighted with diamonds arcing over the fence, for retrieval by a confederate. This scheme ended when an unlucky shot fell to earth in front of a security jeep. Diamonds are dropped into the gas tanks of machinery leaving the beach, and inserted into razor cuts in tires; collaborators remove them later. Miners wedge diamonds behind sweatbands, tap them into ears, and insert them in other orifices.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:47 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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[mini-hijack]Nemo - Have you retired? I missed that. If so, congrats. If it was a layoff, I'm sorry.
[/mini-hijack]
I'm retired. It's been almost two years now.

It was part of the financial crisis. New York was hit hard. Government departments were told to reduce their budgets and those of us who were eligible to retire but had chosen to keep working were strongly "encouraged" to retire.

Which didn't really save the state any money. The Department of Corrections reduced its budget because it could replace us old-timers with newer people who had lower salaries. However those of us who retired all started collecting our pensions (but pensions aren't counted as part of the DOC budget).
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:42 AM
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Oh ok, I was extrapolating from gold mining. You mean people walk out of diamond mines with rough stones, not pieces of rock?
Yes. In the Namibian works, what they're mining is essentially ancient gravel beaches. The diamonds are one kind of pebble in the gravel, but the stuff isn't consolidated into rock yet.
Quote:
What's an easy way to distinguish a diamond from a worthless stone?
Scratch something hard with it. Crystal watch face, for instance.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-29-2011 at 03:43 AM.
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Re: how long it takes for an ingested item to travel the length of the GI tract to one's anus, I was under the impression it was on the order of days, not hours. A miner could work a 12-hour shift, and he'd still have to hang around for a couple of days to assure he didn't smuggle any diamonds out.

It's a different matter, I suppose, if the miner is inserting them in his rectum instead of his mouth.
Bolding mine. Anyone who claims this has never had 5 pints of lager and a chicken vindaloo.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:00 PM
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True but it makes recruiting new employees more difficult.
If they're slaves, you just go round up some more poor people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
I'm skeptical. For one thing, most people can easily go several hours without taking a dump; to be reasonably sure that the employees are passing the stones the waiting period should be much longer. Second, even if some miners do pass the stones, what's to stop them from recovering the rocks from the toilets, washing them, and reinserting/reingesting them?
Probably being closely monitored during this process. Lot easier to watch 1 toilet in a room than watch a field full of people scattered about.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:49 PM
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Forget about stealing diamonds, I want to know why I can bring my lunch to work and mark it with my name and it still gets stolen out of the fridge
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