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A Review of Artisanal Diamond Mining in Africa

How is the artisanal and small-scale mining sector faring in Africa?
Artisanal diamond miners mining

A new article written by Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau at Rough & Polished, reviews the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining (ASM) sector in Africa. Here are some salient points:


De Beers’ Efforts: According to the World Bank, 41 million people are employed in ASM diamond mining across the globe – most of them in Africa. In 2018, De Beers started supporting the formalization of the ASM sector “by raising standards and opening up a new source of ethical diamond supply through the group’s industry-leading distribution channel.” De Beers’ GemFair program, which started with the Kono District in Sierra Leone, now has 160 registered members. In addition, De Beers’ miner training programme has trained 1,049 individuals “on fair labour standards and safer and environmentally responsible working practices.”


De Beers diamond mine
Credit: De Beers


In 2020, GemFair also entered into an MoU with the Mano River Union (MRU) and German Development Corporation (GIZ) to expand the ASM training programme in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and the Ivory Coast.


Angola: Informal diamond mining first began in Angola on a very large scale in 1991. Today, “Angola had more than 700 small diamond prospectors prior to operation transparency, which was launched in 2018 by the ministry of the interior.” The government is now encouraging artisanal and semi-industrial cooperatives to become industrial companies by 2023.


Lucapa rough diamonds Angola
Credit: Lucapa


DRC: As of 2018, 200,000 artisanal miners were registered by the (DDI) with the support of the ministry of mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to Global Witness, the DRC had more than 700,000 artisanal miners in 2017.


The article goes on to examine the state of affairs in South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, concluding that “illegal diamond mining and trading are closely associated with artisanal miners in most African countries, although efforts are being made to formalise their operations.”


Read the full article here

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