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27June 2019

WDC Newsletter (trial)


GEMFAIR PROJECT IN SIERRA LEONE AIMS
TO POSITIVELY ‘IMPACT’ ARTISANAL MINING COMMUNITIES

ABOVE: An artisanal miner in Sierra Leone’s Koidu province weighing a diamond, using the electronic scale that is supplied as part of the GemFair toolkit. 

“Impact” is a very loaded term when it comes to discussing the effects of mining. Too often it is applied negatively, referring to elements like conflict diamonds, particularly in the developing world. But minerals, and diamonds in particular, can have an altogether different “impact.”

In a presentation delivered on the final day of the KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai on June 21, 2019, Peter Karakchiev, a WDC Board member and head of the International Relations Department at ALROSA, the Russian mining company, reported on the results of a study conducted on behalf of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), which looked at the impact on the economies and society in the countries in which the organization’s seven member companies are operating. On an annual basis, he noted, they deliver $16 billion worth of net benefits, which translate into $482 per carat of the polished diamonds yielded, or 64 percent of the annual value of cut diamonds traded worldwide.

The GemFair team posing outside the De Beers buying office in Sierra Leone’s Kono province, on the day that project registered its first rough diamond purchase.

The seven DPA members collectively account for 75 percent of all diamonds mined each year. Indeed, large-scale mining represents 85 percent of world production and 95 percent of diamonds traded in terms of value. The economic benefits they deliver in the countries they operate are considerable, and in a number of producing nations are absolutely essential.

While the world’s seven largest producers employ about 77,000 workers and contractors globally, between 1 million and 1.5 million individuals are involved in artisanal diamond mining, predominantly in Africa, but also in South America. Accounting for around 15 percent of all rough diamonds produced each year by volume, they only receive 5 percent of the revenue in terms of value.

The challenges faced by artisanal miners are daunting. Using only rudimentary equipment in undeveloped and often remote areas of the world, they frequently are uninformed about the real market value of the goods they have recovered, and therefore are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. This is compounded by the difficulties they experience in accessing the legitimate diamond pipeline, where entry is contingent on their obtaining Kimberley Process certification.

Speaking during a Special Forum at the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 19, Feriel Zerouki, a WDC Board member and Senior Vice President of International Relations and Ethical Initiatives at the De Beers Group, provided an overview of a pilot project initiated by her company in Sierra Leone, which uses digital solutions to provide artisanal and small-scale miners a secure route to market for ethically-sourced diamonds, while at the time assisting them receive fair market value.

Called GemFair, the project was launched in […]

26June 2019

WDC Newsletter (trial)


WDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PROMOTES ROLE
OF WOMEN IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE’S MINING SECTOR

ABOVE: Marie-Chantal Kaninda (left), Executive Director of the WDC, meeting with Jean Claude Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Mines and Geology, in Abidjan on May 31, 2019.

Marie-Chantal Kaninda, WDC Executive Director, was a guest of honor at a conference focusing on the role of women in the mining sector, held in Abidjan in the West African state of Côte d’Ivoire on May 31, 2019.

Organized by the Women’s Mining Sector Network of Côte d’Ivoire (FEMICI), the conference looked at the participation of woman in the country’s formal mining industries. The keynote speech was delivered by Jean Claude Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Mines and Geology.

After providing a broad overview of the WDC, the role it plays in the Kimberley Process, its commitment to ethical practices in all sectors of the diamond industry and its ability to promote capacity building in producing countries, Ms. Kaninda said that women should be provided to find their place in the mining sector on merit. Equality in the work place is not only indicated by the diversity of the labor force, she noted, but also by the degree to which it is inclusive.

According to Christine Logbo Kossi, President of FEMICI, the underrepresentation of women is not only related to a lack of awareness in the sector, but also companies not taking into account the specific requirements of female employees. “We must create favorable conditions to attract and retain women in the mining sector given the multiplicity of alternatives that exist,” she said

At the time of the conference, Côte d’Ivoire currently had only 1,039 women registered as employees of mining companies.

In his speech, the Mr. Kouassi pledged the government’s support. “The fate of millions of women is at stake. That’s why we have chosen to increase their contribution of women, to promote more jobs and more rights. We have decided to implement several projects, including supporting women’s training and improving their employability,” he said.

25June 2019

As Kimberley Process considers options for strengthening KPCS, WDC urges that consumers’ concern for product integrity be addressed

As Kimberley Process considers options for strengthening KPCS, WDC urges that consumers’ concern for product integrity be addressed

JUNE 25, 2019

ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Closing Session of the KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India, on June 21, 2019.

As the 2019 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) wrapped up on June 21 in the Indian city of Mumbai, WDC President Stephane Fischler expressed confidence that progress has been made in the effort to reach consensus on the review and reform of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). He called on participants to agree on the measures necessary for strengthening the KPCS’s impact, both in improving the lives and prospects of communities in the mining areas, and also in meeting the expectations of consumers in the jewelry markets.

“What is essential is that, together, we send a clear signal to the outside world, including consumers, that the Kimberley Process remains a vitally relevant institution, which is able to evolve and adapt according to changing conditions. This must be the case at the upstream end of the chain of value, as it is at the downstream end,” he stated.

WDC President Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda intervening during a session of 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India.

At the same time, said the WDC President, recognition of the need to reform should never detract from the very significant achievements the KP has achieved to date. Indeed, he stated, the WDC itself has been remiss in highlighting that developmental programs for artisanal miners that its members are currently involved in launching in places like Sierra Leone, Guinea, DRC and others would have been impossible were it not for the role of the KPSC in returning peace to these areas.

The WDC remains committed to developing such programs, he said, but they are undermined when acts of violence bring the integrity of the diamond into question. “We will continue to stand on the front lines, highlighting our concerns and advancing and promoting solutions, he said. “To do that, we require the understanding, cooperation and support of all players in the chain of value. If we see consumers turning away, our market share shrinks, revenues fall, and all of us will feel the pain.”

While, as the diamond and jewelry industry’s representative in the tripartite KP the WDC has non-voting observer status, its 11-person team at the KP Intersessional, led by Mr. Fischler and WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda, played key roles in various sessions of the plenary and working groups, and in particular Peter Karakchiev, a WDC Board member from Alrosa, who chairs the Working Group of Diamond Experts (WGDE) and the subcommittee on the creation of a permanent KP Secretariat.

The Special Forum about terminology in the diamond sector, which was held on June 19, 2019, at the KP Intersessional in Mumbai, India. It was moderated by Peter Karakchiev, a member of the […]

17June 2019

WDC President calls on KP-member countries to enact measures that enable diamonds to meet their full developmental potential

WDC President calls on KP-member countries to enact measures that enable diamonds to meet their full developmental potential

JUNE 17, 2019

ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Opening Session of the 2019 Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India, on June 17.

WDC President Stephane Fischler has called on Kimberley Process-member governments to do what is necessary to safeguard the interests of their mining communities, and in so doing optimize the developmental potential of their natural resources. He was speaking during the Opening Session of the 2019 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP), which opened today in the Indian city of Mumbai.

“We must agree that the Kimberley Process should ensure that each government takes responsibility to ensure a chain of provenance, earning the trust of consumers wherever they are, and in so doing produce the revenues that must filter back to the grass roots of the mining communities,” Mr. Fischler stated.

Historically, he noted, one of the most critical factors determining whether a country’s economy is able to take advantage of  the potential offered by its rough diamond deposits is the relative absence of ongoing conflict and violence.

“There is a dramatic disparity between the development level of those countries and the others that suffered the tragedy of civil war, Mr. Fischler stated. “Only today are some slowly realizing the opportunities that their commodities could offer, in helping maintain the peace and allowing for nation building.”

The Intersessional Meeting is one of two gatherings of all KP participants that will take place in India in 2019, which is the final year of a three-year reform and review process underway in the organization. “The Kimberley Process has today a one-time opportunity to make a difference in those countries where the diamond industry has not yet met its developmental potential,” he said.

Mr. Fischler delineated  the elements that distinguish review from reform. Reform, he said, involves enhancing internal processes, so that the KP can “make better use of the instruments we ourselves have created, or will create in the future, for the benefit of the members, to generate a more efficient and effective organization.” These, he said, include a simplified and more consistent core document, a strengthened peer-review mechanism, the creation of a permanent secretariat, and the establishment of a multi-donor fund to ensure that all participants are capable of being fully active within the KP.

Reform is a more fundamental process, the WDC President stressed, noting that in its case industry believes the definition of what constitutes “conflict diamonds” should be expanded. “We strongly believe that, by helping eliminate the trade in diamonds directly associated with instances of systemic violence, we can bring about a more responsible and ethical mining sector, thus enabling a fairer distribution of the benefits delivered to millions of people,” he stated

While the diamond industry and civil society  will do all that they can to support constructive change as observers in the KP, ultimately it will be up to governments to […]

12June 2019

Ahead of the KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai: Considering an interdependent value chain, where risk is not equally distributed

Ahead of the KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai: Considering an interdependent value chain, where risk is not equally distributed

JUNE 12, 2019

Stephane Fischler
WDC President

Dear friends,

Next week, for five days starting June 17, participants in the Kimberley Process (KP) will assemble in Mumbai for the first of two consequential gatherings that are taking place in India this year. The so-called Intersessional Meeting, which like the Plenary Meeting scheduled to take place in Delhi in November, is being hosted by the government of India. Both will focus largely on the KP review and reform process, currently in its third and final year.

Decisions that are taken over the next six months, as part of the review and reform process, will reverberate for years to come and impact lives and livelihoods all the way up and down the diamond value chain.

It is that chain that I would like to focus upon. There are few business sectors with the same degree of interdependence as exists among the various players along its length. Each cannot operate without the other, meaning that every member has the ability to both facilitate and disrupt the entire system.

But the stakes are not equally high along the value chain. While in many of the mining regions and in a number of the processing centers diamonds are a primary source of income and community development, in the countries where polished diamond jewelry is predominantly sold, they are considered non-essential products, in a luxury marketplace where there are numerous alternatives. True, diamonds have retained their popularity over a remarkably long period of time. But, should the consumers’ confidence in the gem be shaken, they may well select to spend their disposable income on electronics, holiday travel or some other luxury item.

It puzzles me, therefore, that the KP participants advocating the most stringent standards of supply chain integrity are not those with the highest degree of risk, not to mention being among the greatest potential beneficiaries of increased revenues from their diamond resources. That said, we must appreciate the natural sense of discomfort felt by some participants of being lectured to by those who, in the past, had colonized their lands and lives. But that cannot discount the fact that we all are interdependent, and to dismiss the concerns of consuming nations is not only non-productive, but is likely to be counter-productive as well.

As the intermediary links in the chain that connect the mining sector to the consuming markets, we in the diamond and jewelry industries are acutely aware of the pressures under which both operate, and it is for this reason that we are convinced that all of our interests converge by enabling and then demonstrating the nation-building capacity of natural diamonds, especially in countries where artisanal and small-scale mining are dominant.

It is for this reason that the new WDC System of Warranties expressly references human and labor rights, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption, and why we advocate together […]

31May 2019

World Diamond Council launches new website, upgrades support and information provided online to its members and the industry

World Diamond Council launches new website, upgrades support and information provided online to its members and the industry

MAY 31, 2019

ABOVE: The homepage of the new WDC website. located online at www.worlddiamondcouncil.org. 

The World Diamond Council (WDC) has announced the launch of a newly designed website, upgrading the level of support provided both to its own members and the diamond and jewelry industries in general. It also reports on the organization’s ongoing work within the Kimberley Process (KP), and its mission to protect the integrity of the diamond value chain. The new website is at the WDC’s longtime Internet address, www.worlddiamondcouncil.org.

More reactive and news-oriented, the new website opens a window into the functioning and approach of the WDC, which for 19 years has represented the diamond and jewelry industries in the tripartite KP forum, alongside government and civil society, in the prevention and eradication of the trade in conflict diamonds.

A key function of the new website is to support ongoing programs and projects being carried out by the WDC, including its Annual Meetings and participation in key KP events and programs. A newly added section focuses on the revised WDC System of Warranties, which was approved toward the end of 2018 and shortly will be augmented by online self-assessment tools.

The website also includes an extensive Resource Library, containing documents, reports and presentations relating to the WDC’s own work, as well as that of the KP and other international bodies in the campaign against conflict diamonds.

A section of the new website is designed to assist industry members interested in joining the WDC complete the membership application process, supplying information about conditions of membership, and providing downloadable forms, declarations and other instructions.

“The WDC operates in a dynamic environment, and we wanted the new website to properly reflect this and the essential work that is being done on behalf of the industry and its stakeholders, often without them even realizing it,” said David Bouffard, Chair of the WDC Communications Committee, which has overseen the project. “Functionality was also a key goal, particularly as we now prepare to expand the self-assessment aspect of the WDC System of Warranties.”