Although exact numbers are difficult to establish, it is estimated that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is responsible for 10-20 per cent of global diamond production. Conditions within ASM operations can be very poor, including unsafe working, potential for exploitation and human rights abuses, and possible environmental damage.
De Beers does not source any of its diamonds from the ASM sector. Historically, however, the company has been exposed to ASM close to our operations. We also see ASM as an industry-wide issue that needs to be addressed and we want to play a role as a key industry stakeholder.
Diamond Development Initiative
As part of our concern about ASM, we were a founding member of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) in 2005, a multi-stakeholder partnership of private sector, civil society and governments focused on finding practical solutions to the challenges of informal mining. We sit on the board of the DDI, take a keen interest in its work and provide it with financial support.
The DDI grew out of the recognition that, while the Kimberley Process played an important role in addressing the challenge of conflict diamonds, it did not deal with the issue of ensuring that diamond mining contributes to the socio-economic development of artisanal mining communities.
Achieving this will require systemic change in the ASM sector, supported by a wide range of stakeholders from governments, communities and the private sector. And that is why De Beers has been involved from the outset.
Banning ASM diamonds is not a sustainable option because millions of people rely on this type of mining for a livelihood. The DDI is working to bring this largely unregulated sector into the formal economy in ways that benefit miners, their communities, regional and national economies, and the diamond and jewellery industry.
DDI’s work in this area involves registering artisanal miners, helping them organise themselves into associations and co-operatives, and establishing a set of auditable standards for environmentally and socially responsible artisanal diamond mines.