BY: JOHN DILLON
Photos: Dillon Marsh
You might think twice before falling victim to the famous De Beers Ad Campaign and proposing to your lover with an opulent diamond ring after seeing the massive amounts of landmass they have removed in order to extract it.
For What It’s Worth, South African photographer Dillon Marsh created a series of images that show the drastic contrast between the “sacrifice and gain” of “an industry that has shaped the history and economy of the country so radically.” First he travelled to some of the largest mines all across South Africa and then consulted data released by mining companies on how much product was actually extracted.Then using CGI, he calculated and created a visual rendering of how much diamond or copper each mine actually yielded in order to weigh the scales and appraise the true cost of mining.
The Kimberley Mine alone took 50,000 manual-labour workers to dig to a depth of 1,097 metres, unearthing over 22 million tons of earth. What most don’t realize is that they only yielded 2,720 kilograms of diamonds. Since the mine has been abandoned a deep hole marks the area that is longer than four football fields.
Is the environmental degradation worth such a modest outcome? I don’t exactly know if the ends justify the means, but typing away on a computer that uses copper as one of its main components is certainly a moral dilemma. The dramatic contrast between the true cost and benefit in each image will put things into perspective.