This is a hydraulic diamond operation I stumbled upon deep in the central part of Venezuela. We heard of a la bullia (a shout) meaning a new diamond discovery has been found, several miles away from our camp. We embarked on a stiff hike, navigating the spiderweb of jungle trails heading deep into the jungle.
Still a couple of miles from the area we could hear the unmistakable rumble of a venezuelan water pump. These water pumps are usually an old air cooled engine and a home made pump coupled together with strips of carefully cut tires to attach these incredibly reliable machines together.
You have to hear it to understand the excitement it arouses as you quicken your pace to check out what they are doing. When I peered over this embankment I was astonished at the depth of the excavation and the size of the boulders they were moving.
You talk about dangerous, they were certainly skirting the edge. The remarkable thing that fascinated me was how much material they processed and the efficiency of their operation. This operation was literally hundreds of miles from any city and at least 30 miles from any jungle mining town.
If you want to truly understand hydraulic mining, this is the place. I myself worked the nozzle and the little gravel pumps they had for hours and hours to get hands on experience. It was pretty cool.
~ Rob Towner