DDI's Ian Smillie addresses artisanal diamond mining issues at Kimberley Process plenary in Brisbane

Ian Smillie, Chair of the Diamond Development Initiative, an Ottawa-based international development organization working with small-scale diamond miners, spoke to the 81-nation Kimberley Process Plenary Session in Brisbane, Australia on Dec 13 to address what he calls “the peril and promise in artisanal diamond mining.”

“For too long,” he said, “the challenges created by artisanally-mined alluvial diamonds have been treated with band aids, or they have simply been ignored. This is the greatest test for the diamond world, and it always was. This is where blood diamonds came from and it is where the reputational challenge remains.”

“Governments,” Smillie said, “need to rise to the development challenge. The governments of countries with artisanal miners need to understand that without change, the goose that has laid so many golden eggs will die. Governments of other countries with a stake in diamonds, as well as the diamond and jewelry industry, all need to understand that without much more concerted action, without greater investment and without a comprehensive approach, the phenomenon that is artisanal diamond mining has the potential to cause lasting damage to a $74 billion industry that provides jobs and livelihoods for at least three million people worldwide.”

The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative whose objective is to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, especially those used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.

The term artisanal mining refers to informal mining activities carried out by individuals or groups using basic tools. It is estimated that there are 1.5 artisanal diamond miners working today, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The full text of Mr. Smillie’s presentation can be found here.

Marg Buchanan, Communications Manager
Diamond Development Initiative
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