Development Diamond Standards

One of DDII’s most important policy dialogue projects is the creation of development diamond standards which aligns with OECD Guidelines and the UN’s Global Compact.

Development diamond standards is a partnership project, led by DDII and undertaken with the Madison Dialogue’s Diamond Group, a cross-sector initiative established to promote communication and information sharing among companies, civil society groups and others seeking to encourage best practices, sustainable economic development, and verified sources of responsible gold, diamonds and other minerals.

Development diamond standards will set minimum performance standards in regards to social, economic, environmental, labor, trading and/or governance issues for operations in the developing countries.

Large companies at different levels of the diamond pipeline, cooperatives and individuals miners, as well as, perhaps governments trading, buying and exporting diamonds in developing countries will be expected to meet these standards in order to be confirmed as producing “development diamonds”.

The concept of “development diamonds” deals with the bottom tier of miners and small companies operating on their own that may not be able to achieve the standards set by organizations such as the Responsible Jewellery Council which has a membership of large diamond and gold companies. The concept also extends beyond the idea of “fair trade” diamonds, which if implemented, will capture NGOs and companies that actively promote cooperatives. Artisanal miners however, with the exception of garimpeiros in Brazil mostly operate as individuals.

The development diamond standards will thus be more accessible to small producers, they will be inclusive rather than exclusive, and while they can be promoted by outsiders as in the case of fair trade products, they can also be adopted by small producers, once they begin to see that this new approach may offer commercial and socio-economic benefits.

In the context of development diamond standards, the large scale mining companies would also need to qualify themselves by maintaining ethical relationships with artisanal and small scale operations.

In areas of overlapping operations, large scale miners will be expected to:

  • Do no harm
  • Facilitate alternative livelihoods
  • Dialogue to proactively prevent conflict between artisanal miners and themselves
  • Use appropriate disposal mechanism for large scale mining waste
  • Organization among artisanal miners;
  • Recognize legitimate efforts of artisanal miners

In areas where there is no overlap of activities, large scale miners may:

  • Identify and provide technical assistance, information and knowledge
  • Partner with and train artisanal miners
  • Give legal rights to artisanal and small scale miners

In both cases, a key component of the role of the industry is ensuring equitable redistribution of diamond proceeds to diggers, their families and mining communities. This can be achieved by implementing measures to ensure fair transactions of diamond sales among all actors in the diamond mining industry. In addition, large scale companies may also undertake advocacy for artisanal miners with governments and others on issues such as, legitimization and formalization of artisanal miners.

Overall, large scale miners can assist artisanal and small scale miners to achieve development diamond standards and to derive more benefits from mine products. They can assist artisanal miners with such needs as geological/technical information, access to pricing information and the need for their communities to be self-sustaining.

The importance of development diamond standards

Consumers have become much more discerning in regards to the products they buy. They want to know where the product comes from and whether or not it was ethically produced. Even though conflict diamonds are no longer an issue due to the positive impact that the Kimberly Process has had, there are still many social, development and environmental problems present in the diamond mining industry, and in particular in the artisanal diamond mining sector. Artisanally mined diamonds, which represent an estimated 15% of the world total in any given year, are not distinguishable from other diamonds mined by large corporations.

Consumers have no way of knowing whether their diamond is associated with child labor, environmental problems and the many other issues surrounding artisanal diamond mining communities. Since the artisanal diamonds are part of the diamond value chain, large companies cannot dissociate themselves from the problems affecting the artisanal diamond sector, this despite having cleaned up their act since the advent of conflict diamonds. They have to be seen to care about the most vulnerable industry members, and to take action to put things right.

Creating credible standards that are accessible to artisanal diamond miners, gives them (and to the governments of countries of alluvial artisanal production) a more saleable product, adds value to the overall diamond value chain, and gives consumers confidence that their product was mined in a fair and ethical way.

By providing artisanal miners with development diamond standards that they are able to meet, we are ensuring that they are not marginalized, as standards become a deep-rooted business-driven trend. In addition, by adding value to the “idea” of diamonds, we are enhancing opportunities for improving the lives of people who work at the very source of the diamond pipeline.

Development diamond standards merge several interests: the consumer demand for ethically mined and produced diamonds; shareholders’ interest in reputational enhancement; large diamond companies’ engagement in CSR, which in this particular case relates directly to their own industry; and the beneficiation for artisanal miners with the participation of large scale companies.