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Q&A: Artisanal Mining

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Tara Kirk in the San Francisco Chronicle

New Standards for Sierra Leone

The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) announced today the release of its Standards & Guidelines for Sierra Leone’s Artisanal Diamond Mining Sector. The release, in partnership with Sierra Leone’s Network Movement for Justice and Development, is the first comprehensive guide to a sector that was until recently plagued by armed rebellion and horrific violence.


Sierra Leone’s civil conflict serves as a troubled milestone in the history of conflict diamonds. Today, Sierra Leone is at peace, but the DDI finds that the diamond industry remains troubled. Despite the wealth they generate, artisanal diamond mining districts in Sierra Leone – as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Brazil and elsewhere — are less developed, have greater health problems, more illiteracy and greater poverty than other areas. the DDI believes one reason for this is the informal nature of the diamond economy and the absence of development organizations working in mining areas – governmental and non-governmental. Diamond mining areas are difficult places to work: they are socially fractious and often violent, and typical community development approaches are rarely successful. New private sector investors often fail


The Standards and Guidelines Project, carried out in conjunction with Partnership Africa Canada, with support from the Communities & Small Scale Mining Secretariat and several major diamond mining and retailing companies, has produced practical, relevant information, standards and guidelines for a wide cross-section of government departments, investors and development organizations


A major objective of the DDI is to draw development organizations and more developmentally sound investment into artisanal diamond mining areas, to find ways to make development programming more effective, and to help bring the informal diamond mining sector into the formal economy. One way of doing this is to help potential investors and development organizations understand the political economy of development and investment in artisanal diamond mining areas, and to provide them with guidelines that will help them to avoid past mistakes and to learn from what has worked elsewhere.


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