World Diamond Council (WDC) president Edward Asscher has expressed the WDC’s strong support for an agreement announced on July 8, for collaboration in the development and delivery of a training programme that promotes safe and responsible operating standards.
The standards apply to the artisanal and small-scale mining sectors (ASM) in the Mano River Union- (MRU-) member countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.
The agreement was supported by the De Beers Group’s GemFair initiative, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the MRU.
The proposed regional training programme will enhance capacities, promote knowledge sharing and build a comprehensive understanding of mine site health and safety, environmental management, ethical sourcing standards and diamond valuation among miners, government officials and civil society activists in the four MRU countries.
Covering the gold and diamond sectors, the programme will be operated as part of the GIZ’s regional resource governance programme, which is implemented on behalf of the German Development Corporation, through the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. It will also be implanted in conjunction with the European Union.
GemFair will design the training curricula and provide staff and expertise to deliver the training.
Asscher notes that it is projects like these that demonstrate the capacity of the Kimberley Process and its partners to go beyond the traditional scope of conflict prevention, by also building real grass-roots capacity and economic opportunity in the countries where diamonds are mined.
“By taking a regional, rather than a country-by-country approach, not only is it possible to offer solutions that are more effective, because supply chains do not stop at border crossings, but also to deliver effective results simultaneously to a considerably larger number of ASM communities than otherwise would be possible.”
He adds that this is an approach the WDC has promoted within the Kimberley Process for many years.
Asscher says the strength of the Kimberley Process is the synergies created by the coalition of its government and nongovernment participants.
“Once again, our industry is showing that it is ready to step up to the plate.”
He adds that by teaming up with the GIZ and the MRU, GemFair will be providing critically needed training about safe and environmentally responsible mining techniques to artisanal miners, government officials and civil society activists in all the MRU countries.