By far the most important announcement this week was that of the De Beers Group that it is preparing to pilot a program called GemFair to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically-sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds. The diamond miner said that GemFair will use dedicated technology to record ASM production at mine sites that meet demonstrable ethical standards, with the aim of purchasing of rough diamonds from approved locations while helping improve working conditions and livelihoods for those working in the sector.
GemFair will team up with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), an NGO that has been working for a decade to formalize the diamond ASM sector in several parts of Africa. 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.
Once ethically certified, De Beers will provide qualified miners with a technology solution that includes an app and dedicated tablet, supported by a diamond ‘toolkit’ that will enable the digital tracking of ASM diamonds throughout the supply chain. The pilot will run in Sierra Leone where a number of artisanal mine sites are already participating in the DDI’s Maendeleo Diamond Standards program and where significant advancements have been made by the government of Sierra Leone to formalize the ASM sector.
As Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “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.”