The World Diamond Council (WDC) strongly endorses the regional approach taken by the Mano River Union (MRU), in West Africa, to reinforce the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
The MRU held a three-day workshop in Sierra Leone last week to discuss a programme designed to enhance the implementation of the KPCS.
During the meeting, WDC executive director Elodie Daguzan praised the MRU’s support for artisanal diamond miners to gain better access to the legitimate mining supply chain, while receiving fair value for their work.
The three-day workshop was called to design national and regional action plans to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining, with the goal of helping drive revenue back to the mining communities.
The project is being implemented by the governments of the MRU – Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea – with the support of Deutsche Zusammenarbeit and funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“In terms of volume, artisanal and small-scale miners account for about 15% of rough diamond production, but they comprise more than 96% of the individuals who earn their living from diamond mining.
“Regional initiatives that are designed to enhance the implementation of the KPCS should focus on allowing these communities to optimise the benefits they receive from their hard work, and their countries realising the full potential of their natural resources.
“These include preventing the smuggling of goods across borders, better transparency and enhanced methods for monitoring the extraction and movement of diamonds, and improvements in the capacity to properly evaluate mineral output,” said Daguzan.
She added that all of these facets are addressed in the MRU regional programme.
She further explained that cooperative initiatives such as the MRU’s regional programme created synergies that enhance the value of natural diamonds from the perspectives of both the mining communities and jewellery consumers.
“Just as rough diamond-producing countries contend that their nations should derive full benefit from their own natural resources, young consumers today demand that the products they buy must have social as well as monetary value.
“The natural diamond’s capacity to contribute to the long-term wellbeing of people and communities in the producing countries should be considered an integral component of our product’s value proposition, for it also addresses the consumer’s aspiration for social significance, she stated.
Daguzan believes it should enhance the value of the jewellery in which diamonds are set, as well as the revenues that flow back to the producing countries, thus generating higher income for each individual nation.
She highlighted grassroots capacity building projects that have been undertaken by WDC members in countries of the MRU. These include De Beers’ GemFair project in the Kono region of Sierra Leone, and the “My Fair Diamond” project of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, which was first launched in the Koidu region of eastern Sierra Leone and is now being expanded to the Banankoro region of Guinea.
Grassroots projects carried out by industry, supported by regional programmes like that of the MRU, will create the synergies “that optimise the artisanally-produced diamond’s potential as an economic and social force”, she noted.
Daguzan also outlined the WDC’s new System of Warranties, which incorporates critical elements of responsible corporate practices to ensure the good provenance of diamonds flowing through the chain of distribution, thus complementing current KP standards.