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De Beers to Help Reduce Poverty Among Alluvial Diamond Miners

De Beers to Help Reduce Poverty Among Alluvial Diamond Miners

Published 09-22-06

Submitted by De Beers

Today at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Jonathan Oppenheimer, Director of De Beers, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced a $2 million project to help improve the lives of so-called "informal" diamond miners in Tanzania, who work in streams and river beds where diamonds occasionally wash up. Informal mining is often unregulated, and workers are frequently exploited by middlemen and rogue traders. These conditions exist across western and central Africa and as a result, nearly 1.3 million informal miners live in total poverty, despite the value of the diamonds they mine. The goal of the De Beers project is to provide these miners with access to fair-market pricing and healthcare.

"De Beers does not have a business interest in informal mining, but we cannot sit idly by and watch millions of African miners and their families suffer," said Jonathan Oppenheimer. "While we may not have all the solutions or expertise, we hope to work in partnership with those that do to give this program the best chance of success."

De Beers is joining with the government of Tanzania and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the hope of creating a workable model that can be used to help informal miners in other diamond-producing countries like Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This commitment by De Beers reflects its participation in the multi-stakeholder Diamond Development Initiative (DDI). De Beers chose Tanzania as the location for the project because the Government asked for its help, and the company already had mining operations in the country.

"This is an example of the business-government partnerships we seek to build and sustain," said President Kikwete. "Together, we can proclaim to Tanzanians that business is critical to the success of our development efforts."

For decades, formal diamond mining has helped fuel economic growth in countries like South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. In Botswana alone, mining revenue accounts for 30% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Such economic growth has allowed these countries to invest heavily in education and healthcare.

"It is only through developing and maximizing all its natural resources that a sustainable future for Africa and its people can be secured," said Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers. "Diamonds are a key component in the campaign to make poverty history."

Notes to editors
Photographs of today's commitment announcement will be available on the Clinton Global Initiative's website:

De Beers

  • De Beers is the world's leading diamond mining and marketing company. Together with its partners it employs more than 21,000 people in 25 countries. This includes a multinational professional exploration team of about 170 earth scientists on five continents and in 12 countries. At any one time, the company has about 60 joint venture exploration agreements with companies in many parts of the world.
  • De Beers is the largest diamond mining company in the world today, producing over 40% of the world's global gem diamonds from our mines in Africa, as well as sorting and selling the majority of the world's rough diamonds.
  • De Beers has 15 mines across Africa and new mines coming on stream in Canada. Many of these mines are joint ventures with partner governments, building on over a century of expertise in every form of mining.
The Community Diamond Partnership in Tanzania
  • The objectives of the Partnership are to:
      - alleviate poverty and accelerate sustainable socio-economic development in the communities around diamond mining areas
      - formalise, transform and support artisanal and small-scale mining communities in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania through a multi-stakeholder partnership."
  • The Partnership comprises the Tanzanian Government, Williamson Diamonds Ltd. (WDL) and the De Beers Family of Companies.
Diamond Development Initiative (DDI)
  • More than a million African "informal" miners and their families live and work in absolute poverty, outside the formal economy, in countries struggling to recover from the effect of war and internal conflict. The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) is a unique effort to address their problems, bringing NGOs, governments and business together in a common effort that aims to convert diamonds from a fuel for war into an engine for development.
  • The DDI's mission is: "to gather all interested parties into a process that will address, in a comprehensive way, the political, social and economic challenges facing the artisanal diamond mining sector in order to optimise the beneficial development impact of artisanal diamond mining to miners and their communities within the countries in which the diamonds are mined."
  • The DDI seeks to compliment and build upon the success of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
  • Initiated by De Beers, Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness, the DDI today also comprises the US-based Foundation for Environmental Sustainability and Security (FESS), the World Bank's - and DfID's - Communities and Small-Scale Mining (CASM), the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and the Rapaport Group.
  • The DDI has been endorsed by the governments of Sierra Leone, Guinea, the DRC, Namibia and Tanzania and has received start-up project funding from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs.
Small scale informal diamond mining
  • Small scale informal [also referred to as artisanal] diamond mining is typified by thousands of individual, family or small groups operating with the simplest equipment.
  • An estimated one million people work in informal diamond mining in Africa, producing approximately 17% of the world's rough diamonds.1
  • Informal diamond mining is concentrated in Angola and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and also takes place on a smaller scale in the Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Togo.
  • The majority of informal diamond mining that takes place in these countries is defined as 'informal' because it is undertaken on land which is neither licensed nor regulated for the mining activities taking place.

1Diamonds are not the only minerals mined artisanally, gold and cobalt are among other minerals which are also mined this way. Artisanal mining of minerals is a global phenomenon which provides 80 million people worldwide with livelihoods.

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De Beers

De Beers

The De Beers Group of Companies has a leading role in the diamond exploration, diamond mining, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors.

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