The issues surrounding Blood diamonds sourced from conflict zones, unethical diamond mining practices, human rights violation and social damage are well known. However, at the receiving end of these problems are 1.5 million artisanal diamond diggers and their 10 million dependents, mostly in the West African region.
These diamond diggers work for less than $2 a day in harsh environments and working conditions, either unaware about the reality of how much the diamonds mined by them fetch in retail markets or oppressed by the exploiters and middlemen who pocket much of the profits. Though the artisanal diamond mining sector accounts for an estimated 15% of the global production, the industry seems to be reclusive to these appalling issues.
A great deal of these challenges can be addressed by bringing these artisanal diamond diggers into mainstream by formalizing this sector. In this regard, Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) is working towards enabling these diggers to sell their diamonds in a legitimate manner to help them get fair prices for their diamonds and have a sustainable livelihood. Till date, they have registered around 100,000 diggers and plans to ramp up their initiative. To continue their efforts, Rory More O’Ferrall, honorary vice chairman of DDI, made an appeal to the industry for financial assistance, at the World Diamond Congress (WDC) in Antwerp. DDI plans to formalize these diamonds and differentiate them as ‘Development Diamonds’ and hope to get some premium in the retail markets since these diamonds will be ethically sourced by informal artisanal miners, aiding the protection of artisanal miners and making the industry less vulnerable.
Source: Krawitz, A. (2014) “Development Diamonds”, Rapaport, Diamonds.Net