IT IS ESTIMATED THAT ONE MILLION PEOPLE WORK IN THE INFORMAL (ARTISANAL) ALLUVIAL DIAMOND DIGGING SECTOR.
Informal or artisanal digging is small-scale mining on a subsistence basis undertaken by individuals, families and groups using the most basic equipment to extract diamonds. Alluvial mining extracts diamonds from deposits of sand, gravel and clay, which have been naturally transported by water erosion and deposited along either the banks of a river, the shoreline or on the bed of the ocean.
Diamonds are a vital natural resource for African nations as they help ensure people build a new and positive future. These benefits, however, are not always being realized in countries that are home to artisanal diamond digging. This type of digging is very labor intensive as it entails first removing the sand on river banks and then extracting and washing the gravel in order to find diamonds. There are a number of issues concerning the working conditions of small-scale informal diamond diggers. Among these are the unhealthy, unregulated and sometimes dangerous environments in which diggers work, together with the fact that the majority of diggers do not know the true value of rough diamonds and are therefore vulnerable to exploitation. In many cases the workers have no other option for employment and support a whole family on the substance wage given. The situation that many alluvial miners face today reflect the fundamental challenges of extreme poverty and a lack of basic infrastructure, education and healthcare in war-torn countries.
The diamond industry is committed to help find solutions that create fair-wages, build infrastructure and help redevelop countries that are home to small-scale informal alluvial diamond digging to use diamonds to bring real change to people's lives. The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), founded through partnership between governments, NGOs and the diamond industry, sees organizations working together to pool their resources, experience and knowledge to improve the conditions concerning the production of rough diamonds in the alluvial mining sector and in some of the poorest countries in Africa. Read more about the DDI in Fact #11.
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