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R/ Damahana Maha Vidyalaya, Damahana,Balangoda,
Sri Lanka.

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The Gem Mining Industry

Ratnapura the ‘City of Gems ” true to its name, has always been a district filled with Gems. Resulting from this. the gem mining industry is a main source of income in the district. However, gem mining is not as pleasant and attractive as the gems it produces.

For example, selecting the appropriate site for mining is in itself a tedious process. Good locations are often found in valleys with gravel soil and lots of smooth rounded stones called ‘illan-gal'. Balangoda is one such region in the district where many mines are situated.

Even though there are certain legal procedures that apply to the industry many villagers engage in illegal mining activities causing many environmental and safety hazards both to the miners and the general public.

Once the site is selected, prior to commencing work the workers participate in a series of religious rituals. The religious observations include certain rites inviting the deities to provide protection to the workers and to their families at home. They also seek the blessings of the gods in the expectation that gems will be discovered in the mine.

With the religious observations complete, work on the mine commences when the team lead (head bass) cuts a selected sod of soil on an auspicious day. There must be 12 members in the team to work in the mine.

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