Mechanisation of Artisanal Diamond Mining

DDI International held discussions with member countries of the Kimberley Process Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production (WGAAP). The discussions focused on possible actions/programs that governments could undertake, to advance formalisation of artisanal diamond mining.

In response to ensuing expressions of interest in mechanisation, DDI International commissioned a study on the potential effectiveness and socioeconomic impacts of mechanisation—with the understanding that helping artisanal miners mechanise their operations (as part of an integrated approach to formalisation), could help create a culture of professionalism in the sector and nurture a more sustainable local and national development.

DDI commissioned Projekt-Consult GmhB to carry out the research study. Building on almost 25 years of experience in the areas of energy and resource management, mining, environmental protection, promotion of small-scale businesses and organisational development, Projekt-Consult’s research focused on: past and current applications of mechanisation in artisanal settings; the types of equipment available and used on the ground; the cost-effectiveness of different types and levels of mechanisation; financial and socio-economic tradeoffs between capital- and labour-intensive technologies; and an analysis of optimal approaches for the design and implementation of a mechanisation programme that incorporates the socioeconomic, as well as the cost-effective dimensions of mechanisation.

The study reiterated that a mechanisation programme could not be established in isolation from other programmes such as, health and safety education, education on prices of diamonds, access to finance, effective access to markets, incentivizing savings and reinvestment in the communities, to mention a few. In releasing the report to governments, care has been given to ensure that this notion was clearly understood. To inform the members of the WGAAP about findings from the study on mechanisation of artisanal diamond mining, DDI International organised a two day workshop in Jerusalem, Israel, prior to the 2010 KP Plenary. A total of ten governments were represented. These included WGAAP members and other KP member countries as guest observers. Although the workshop was intended for governments, some members of the KP Civil Society Coalition attended the discussions. Overall, based on the findings and practical recommendations made in the study report, the workshop reinforced the notion that mechanisation is feasible. It helped governments to understand the benefits of such a programme and their role in setting the framework for mechanisation (creating an enabling environment), where other actors such the private sector and civil society organizations can take an efficient lead.

DDI is now seeking to undertake a pilot mechanisation program. Participants in selected pilot countries will include key stakeholders from the public, civil and private sectors, as well as relevant projects by other organizations that are ongoing in the sector.