Sierra Leone is a West African country with a population of approximately 7.3 million people, as well as a wide diversity of ethnic groups, languages and regionalised customs. Once eponymous with the so-called ‘blood diamond’ debate, Sierra Leone has come a long way in economic and political development since the end of the conflict in 2003. The artisanal and small-scale mining sector is peaceful but in need of formalisation. GemFair was created in an attempt to drive essential diamond revenue for Sierra Leone so that the sector can be a source of economic development.
The nation is divided into 14 districts and 190 chiefdoms. Each chiefdom is led by a Paramount Chief selected according to regional traditions. Paramount Chiefs wield significant formal and informal power in both local and national politics.
We work with mine sites in seven of the Kono District’s 14 chiefdoms. Continual engagement with the local community is a key element of our bottom-up cooperation strategy.
Key indicators for Sierra Leone
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163 of 190
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Mining village in Kano
The mining sector
Sierra Leone produces metal ores, industrial minerals and precious metals, but the country is perhaps best known for its diamond mining sector. Artisanal and small-scale diamond mining is a significant portion of the sector, with artisanal export volumes reaching 181,508 carats in 2018, 24% of total diamond exports from Sierra Leone.
The ASM value chain
A complex value chain of financial and material labour brings ASM diamonds to market.
Digger - The workers at an ASM mine site, including shovellers, panners and haulers.
Group Leader - Oversees work of between 5–10 diggers.
Mine Manager - Hired by the licence holder to manage day-to-day operations. Also referred to as a miner.
Sub Contractor - Rents out a defined sub-area of an artisanal mining licence from a licence holder; pays for daily operations in the sub-area and shares revenue with the licence holder. Also referred to as a supporter.
Licence Holder - The holder of an artisanal mining licence; pays for daily operations or rents out pits to sub-contractors. Also referred to as a miner.
Supporter - Provides financial or in-kind support to miners.
Dealer (GemFair Office) - Purchases diamonds.
Exporter - Exports diamonds and often employs dealers.
Our community engagement and outreach
Community engagement is at the heart of everything we do. Our outreach in mining communities takes a holistic approach: At each village meeting, we introduce GemFair to local miners. We explain the way the GemFair buying process works and our emphasis on providing fair value and respect to our customers. In essence, we are set apart from other buyers in the district.
It is important for us, and for our customers, to buy diamonds that are traceable and ethically sourced. We have expert buyers in-house that underpins our confidence in the price we offer. What is more, we support the livelihoods of miners by offering a fair price, providing training in diamond valuation and setting standards that improve the working conditions of mine sites.
GemFair outreach: Introducing a new way of doing diamond business.