Diamond companies have a moral imperative to contribute to improving the working and living conditions of artisanal diamond miners surviving on a few dollars a day, Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) Honorary Vice Chairman Rory More O’Ferrall told diamantaires at the 36th World Diamond Congress.
“I am here to sound a warning about a real and present threat that can directly affect all members of the diamond jewelry pipeline. In Africa, there are 1.5 million diggers and artisanal miners trapped in the most abject poverty. Together with their family members, we are talking about 10 million people.”
He said that around 16 percent of global supply came from the diamonds mined by artisanal miners.
The situation of artisanal miners is further damaged by the fact that they are unregistered, their work is unregulated, and they work for unscrupulous employers while corrupt officials cream off money that should go to the diggers.
“Around 16 percent of global supply came from the diamonds mined by artisanal miners.”
“They are members of our extended diamond family,” he said. “They are our people. Nothing much changes for the better for them and they do not have any choices in their lives.”
He commented that while the Kimberley Process (KP) was an organization created by the global diamond industry of which it could be proud, the KP does not deal with issues of human rights or social degradation. He said that it was in the industry’s interest, in order to avoid the possibility of more regulation and consumer boycotts, to take action now and contribute to the DDI’s work.
“This is not just an issue of morality, but a business imperative,” he said.
“The WFDB, IDMA, the AWDC and other organizations contribute to our work, but I believe it is vital for companies to contribute to help them be able to fend off any negative claims from potential clients. It is not good enough to say that your trade association makes contributions on your behalf. We need businesses to do so as well.”