Miners in Small Sefadu learn about the value of their diamonds

Miners in Small Sefadu learn about the value of their diamonds

In the village of Small Sefadu in the Kono District of Sierra Leone, a group of 15 young people, part of the Self Reliance Youth Group, have been learning to mine for diamonds thanks to local concession owner Bashiru Tarawally. In addition, the Maendeleo Diamond Standards program offers them training in human and workers’ rights, health and safety and environmental responsibility.

Thirty-five-year-old Bashiru, a miner from father to son, recently offered his family’s mining concession to be used by the youth project in collaboration with the MDS program. The miners say they are impressed with the use of safety gear, sanitary facilities and the process of engaging the community in their mining operation. Digger Ishmael Sesay explains that the safety precautions have helped in reducing accidents. “Health and safety has seriously changed the way we operate. We were not too aware of this kind of thing until MDS enlightened us.”

Bashiru says he was particularly motivated to get involved in the program by the fact that ethical mining processes and access to responsible markets would serve to reposition them for individual and community development.

More recently, the miners have added another tool to their bargaining power: they have learned about what is involved in determining the value of their diamonds. “Truth be told, this is my first time to witness a detail valuation process,” says Ishmael. “Parameters such as colour, size, shape and clarity determine the final price of a diamond. I and my entire group were so impressed with the complex valuation process.”

“Miners mostly lack the knowledge about the value of their diamonds,” he adds. “The prices that are offered for our diamonds could be contested, but we don’t have the means to obtain the appropriate fair value.”

It is clear that any role DDI could play in providing a service of independent valuation would be welcome. Even better, according to Ishmael, would be to provide training to the people who need it most. “DDI should build the capacity of miners to value and price their diamonds,” he says.