Most subordinates in the artisanal gold mining industry live below the poverty
line and due to lack of governance and surveillance of mining practices, miners
are exposed to dangerous working conditions, hazardous chemicals and piecework
remuneration. Furthermore, due to the high cost of operating a legal mine
(corporate structure, land lease, mining licenses, equipment etc.),
most artisanal miners, after having scraped the surface (30 to 50ft),
nomadically migrate across Africa in order to mine independently
thus leaving the majority of the resources at a deeper level to be
exploited by large foreign industrial mining companies.
In most African countries, larger industrial companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility to hire locals yet have found it difficult as the nomadic and independent mentality of artisanal miners leaves inconsistencies in the workforce as artisanal miners lack the skills to work in an industrial site, the nomadic migration of these miners makes it difficult to track the best talent and their independent/ gold rush mentality brought on by being paid by the gram (piecework) does not entice them to be an employee despite the benefits.
Ethical Stones has succeeded in implementing a cooperative business model that allows locals to prosper from their lands and resources in a legal and ethical manner yet maintaining their independence. In Guinea, we have provided artisanal mining communities with:
Diamonds have been produced in Africa for centuries and up until
a short time ago were controlled by a few large players such as the de Beers
Group or Rio Tinto. The majority of production was done by large industrial
companies that monopolised the market by obtaining the best concessions off
local government through corruption. Additionally, this production was never
processed in the country of origin leaving the majority of the margins to be
made in developed off-shore cutting centres such as Antwerp. As of late, countries
in Africa are slowly reclaiming their diamond concessions and taking over production,
opening on-shore cutting centres to allow them to produce a final product and enforcing
the governance of a certification of origin and quality to compliment the GIA:
Kimberly Certificate. In countries such as Botswana, where the first African
cutting centre was created, this movement has been successful as they have
kept the industry private and invested in the expertise of industry
professionals. In most cases, the recuperation of the diamond industry
has been carried out by the government solely and the result have been
disastrous leaving these countries with mismanaged mines, inconsistent
production, lack of quality due to poor mining practices, appalling working
conditions and an increase in smuggling and illegal diamond mining.
Additionally, the Kimberly certificate, although an added value to the industry,
does not describe the conditions and practices of the mines of-which the gemstone
came from and is prone to corruption depending on the government issuing the certificate.
Ethical Stones is working with countries such as Zimbabwe in order to implement its certification program allowing for the traceability of a diamond to be completed. The certificate will only be issued for stones where a mine follows our standards and protocol, and mines that are not up to standard are welcome to join our certification program. For diamonds, our certificate will provide the end buyer with information such as: