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De Beers expands small-scale mining project

24 April 2019


A pilot project developed by De Beers that aims to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds is expanding in Sierra Leone.

The GemFair pilot provides ASM diamond miners with access to De Beers Group’s industry-leading distribution channel while seeking to improve ethical standards, working conditions and value for miners within the sector. GemFair has partnered with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), an NGO that has been instrumental in helping to formalise the diamond ASM sector in Africa. 

Following the launch of the pilot, where GemFair worked with 16 mine sites in Sierra Leone, the pilot has been extended in the past six months to work with a further 38 sites and widen its impact. To incentivise mine owners to work with GemFair, a membership model has been introduced, whereby mine sites that meet a strict set of core requirements, aligned with the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and pass due diligence checks, can join the programme and sell diamonds to GemFair. Miners then work with DDI towards achieving full Maendeleo Diamond Standards™ (MDS) certification, within a one-year timeframe.  

Since the pilot launched in April 2018, GemFair has seen significant progress across its operations, opening offices in both Koidu and Freetown, and developing a set of publicly available ASM standards to ensure a best practice approach for responsible sourcing. The GemFair standards complement the MDS, which include standards relating to social, environmental and labour risks within the sector. 

GemFair has developed a unique digital solution to ensure the traceability of all diamonds registered through the programme. In due course, the technology will be integrated with Tracr™, the industry blockchain solution led by De Beers Group, to prove the provenance and ethical sourcing of a diamond.