The mines in the northern part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais were once the most important diamond sources in the world.
But the mines are long abandoned, now just craters stripped nearly bare by multinational mining companies.
Yet in this rural and remote area, there are still hundreds of Brazilians who depend on the mines for survival. Using only hand-held tools, rural workers who stay in bare huts descend upon the depleted no-man's land looking for a windfall.
Without electricity, running water, or a steady income, these workers barely manage to survive - unless their luck suddenly turns and a rare windfall springs forth.
AP photographer Felipe Dana recently traveled to the desolate and grueling mines of Areinha to document the struggling miners' experience.
Minas Gerais is Brazil's second-most populous state and is larger than France in land area. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the remote and arid northern region of the state played host to a massive diamond rush, which has now petered out substantially.
This November 2015 satellite image shows craters left by corporate mining. The area of Areinha is a region devastated by mining and deforestation. Groups of artisanal miners try their luck in the abandoned mines.
The miners use water pumps to separate rocks in the craters, sifting and searching for a payload overlooked by centuries of mining.
Diamond mining has been a part of Areinha for centuries, harkening back to the times of slavery. But after hundreds of years, the land has been nearly depleted, leaving locals to mine for what's left.
There is little to no infrastructure in Areinha, leaving the workers with no running water apart from rivers, and no electricity.
Makeshift sluices are often used to sift through rocks and soil, a process that can take weeks without the proper equipment. They often dig down more than 100 feet through topsoil to reach the layers of gravel that may hold gems, then extract the rocks with the help of small pumps powered by old truck engines.
Wooden knives made by hand are used to move small rocks in search of the diamonds. The identification of the diamonds is a tedious task that often proves fruitless.
Methods dating back centuries are still used, including using pans to sift through muddy water and gravel deposits. This work moves at a glacial pace.
There are hundreds of people across the region digging for diamonds, often in groups of 10 or less. It's lonely and backbreaking work for little reward.
Areinha is vast and remote, and has little infrastructure. Here, a man holding a flashlight searches for cell phone signal atop a bluff.
Gleice da Conceicao (left) keeps livestock at the camp. Gleice, 29, works as a cook and searches for diamonds in her free time for extra income.
Gleice (right) and Amadeu de Jesus (left) work long, grueling hours. Amadeu has been mining since he was 14 years old.
The miners' huts are sparse at best. Here, an idyllic painting hangs forlornly on the crackled wall.
Jose Vanderson prepares his dinners by candlelight in his tiny wooden home.
Vanderson says diamond mining is a longstanding cultural tradition of Areinha, where the first gem was uncovered nearly 300 years ago.
Some enterprising locals make the best of it. This bar runs on a generator in order to cater to the small groups of miners.
And while occasionally a miner can get lucky and find stones worth thousands of dollars, most of the mines have been depleted by corporate mining, leaving little chance of finding more.
A find of this size could take months of strenuous work, but even untold months are no promise of success in this unforgiving environment.