Mining giant De Beers is testing the use of an app to verify diamonds from Sierra Leone.
In a pilot programme, called GemFair, the mining company is providing tablets to artisanal and small scale mines (ASMs) which they can use to record the diamonds before they are shipped.
Miners can use the tablet to create a “digital fingerprint” of a diamond by taking a picture of themselves with the diamond and uploading it on the app. The diamond is then sealed in a bag with a QR code – also provided – before it is sold at an in-country GemFair office.
This allows the diamond to be traced out of the country and creates a digital record of its movements and the transactions associated with it.
Sierra Leone was once notorious for conflict diamonds. While the country now maintains a tenuous peace, artisanal mines are still high risk for labour abuses, forced labour and child labour.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO of 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.”
Gemfair estimates artisanal mining employs more than 1.5m people in developing countries.
All miners participating in the pilot have already been ethically accredited by the Diamond Development Initiative, which is partnering with De Beers on GemFair, to ensure standards are being met. Miners are also given training before they use the app, and the app itself conatins additional learning resources.
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