De Beers has announced it is preparing to pilot a programme to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically-sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds.
Named GemFair, it will use dedicated technology to record ASM production at mine sites that meet demonstrable ethical standards, with the aim of purchasing of rough diamonds from approved locations while helping improve working conditions and livelihoods for those working in the sector.
GemFair is partnering with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) for the pilot, an NGO that has been leading efforts to formalise the diamond ASM sector in several parts of Africa. Miners that wish to participate in the GemFair pilot must be certified by the DDI as meeting their standards, as well as additional standards specific to the GemFair business model.
Once ethically certified, De Beers will provide qualified miners with a technology solution that includes an app and dedicated tablet, supported by a diamond ‘toolkit’ that will enable the digital tracking of ASM diamonds throughout the supply chain.
The pilot will run in Sierra Leone where a number of artisanal mine sites are already participating in the DDI’s Maendeleo Diamond Standards programme and where significant advancements have been made by the government of Sierra Leone to formalise the ASM sector.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “The ASM sector represents a critical income source for many poverty-affected communities. However, due to parts of the sector being largely informal and unregulated, it lacks access to established international markets and the ability to derive fair value for participants. By providing a secure route to market, offering fair prices and helping to raise standards, we hope to play a role in enhancing the prospects for those working in the sector, while also potentially opening up a new source of supply for De Beers over the longer term.”
The pre-pilot phase will commence this month, with the aim of a first purchase occurring later in 2018. There is no set timeframe for the pilot to be completed.