OTTAWA — The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) is a network of governments, non-governmental organizations, and various players of the diamond industry that work collectively to protect artisanal, or alluvial, diamond miners. Such miners are from recently war-torn countries that have not reached governmental stability. DDI addresses and hopes to thwart any potential exploitation that these diamond miners are prone to as a result of the instability.
Alluvial diamond mining- also referred to as artisanal diamond mining- refers to a particular group of diamond miners who use basic technology and mine for diamonds along alluvial deposits. These alluvial deposits are formed by water carrying sand, water and clay into areas such as the banks of rivers, shorelines and the ocean floor.
Alluvial diamond mining constitutes 15 percent of total diamond mining worldwide. Some countries that participate in diamond extraction use solely alluvial diamond mining techniques. As effective as these techniques may be, it puts these miners in a position to have their rights violated. The ultimate goal of DDI is for alluvial miners and the communities they support to become established and respectable players in the diamond value chain. DDI hopes to rectify the parts of the industry that remain largely unregulated, and therefore unsafe, and protect them from exploitation.
Again, much of the problems the miners face may be attributed to development that has failed to take place after war in mining countries. Post-war rebuilding has been generally weak; and strong, reliable governments and infrastructure were not properly implemented, leaving these miners with no other form of work which they can choose to protect their futures. Miners are at a great risk for being exploited for their work, oftentimes held back from knowing the high demand of these diamonds and therefore the true value of they represent.
DDI has various ongoing projects that attempt to bring understanding of the issues and ultimately lead projects in digging communities that will improve working conditions, establish fair prices for the miners and move towards formalizing the industry. One example is the Kimberley Process Development Agenda, which is currently the DDI’s key program. The Kimberley Process works to promote political, social and economic development in areas where artisanal diamond mining is prevalent.
The Kimberley Process works with the Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production (WGAPP) which is a group of countries that dig diamonds via alluvial mining. Some of the countries include: Angola, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A primary goal of the Kimberley Process is the formalization of the alluvial diamond mining industry. The importance of formalizing the industry would ultimately create a culture of professionalism and create it to be more sustainable local and national enterprise.
In the past, the DDI has hired the German group Projekt-Consults GmhB to see whether formalization is possible. After conducting a deep study of the effects of mechanization, including the social and economical implications of switching from capital or labor intensive technologies to measuring the impact of technologies used in the past versus those used today, it was revealed that it was best for the alluvial mining industry to mechanize and eventually formalize.
Furthermore, another project that the DDI is currently working on is to get all artisanal miners and diamond buyers registered into a system and also track all diamonds produced. The motive for this initiative is to prevent conflict among miners and buyers alike. Often, buyers will collectively buy diamonds from the miners at values far below their worth. This system will also help formalize the industry by providing greater regulation and accountability, and make intervening easier in the future if necessary.
The Diamond Development Initiative has positioned itself to be an advocate for miners for years to come.
– Christina Cho