Mining group De Beers will launch pilot a programme named GemFair to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically-sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds in Siera Leone, the company announced.
The program will use dedicated technology to record ASM production at mine sites that meet demonstrable ethical standards, with the aim of purchasing rough diamonds from approved locations while helping improve working conditions and livelihoods for those working in the sector.
De Beers is partnering with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) for the pilot project, a Non Governmental Organisation that has been leading efforts to formalise the diamond ASM sector in several parts of Africa. According to terms of the agreement, miners that wish to participate in the GemFair pilot must be certified by the DDI as meeting their standards, as well as additional standards specific to the GemFair business model.
The pilot project will run in Sierra Leone ,where a number of artisanal mine sites are already participating in the DDI’s Maendeleo Diamond StandardsTM programme and where the Government of Sierra Leone has made significant advancements to formalise the ASM sector.
The pre-pilot phase of GemFair will involve setting up a local presence in Sierra Leone and working with the DDI and registered mine sites to ensure the agreed standards are being met, that participating miners are trained in how to use the technology solution, and that they have an enhanced understanding of diamond classification.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, commented on the project: “The ASM sector represents a critical income source for many poverty-affected communities. However, due to parts of the sector being largely informal and unregulated, it lacks access to established international markets and the ability to derive fair value for participants.
“By providing a secure route to market, offering fair prices and helping to raise standards, we hope to play a role in enhancing the prospects for those working in the sector, while also potentially opening up a new source of supply for De Beers over the longer term.”
Should the project prove success, the technology used in GemFair will be integrated with the diamond industry blockchain platform De Beers is currently developing, allowing the ASM sector to participate in the blockchain and providing an added layer of assurance for ASM production.